Haley Barbour co-chairs the Bipartisan Policy Center’s Immigration Task Force. Barbour, founding partner of BGR Group, returned to BGR in January 2012 after serving two consecutive terms as governor of Mississippi, including two years as the chairman of the Republican Governors Association. At BGR, he heads advocacy coalitions, lobbies on behalf of his clients and remains a major force in Republican party politics and elections.
Barbour began his political career in 1968, dropping out of college to work on Richard Nixon’s presidential campaign; in 1976, after supporting Ronald Reagan for the GOP nomination, he ran Gerald Ford’s fall campaign in the Southeast. In 1982, he ran for U.S. Senate in Mississippi, but lost to incumbent John C. Stennis. Barbour later served as political director of the Reagan White House. In 1987, he co-founded the government affairs firm that later became BGR Group.
From 1993 to 1997, Barbour served as chairman of the Republican National Committee, managing the 1994 Republican surge that led to GOP control of both Houses of Congress for the first time in 40 years.
After Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast in 2005, Barbour received national recognition from the bipartisan American Legislative Exchange Council for his swift response to the worst natural disaster in American history. In 2015, he published America’s Great Storm: Leading Through Hurricane Katrina, a memoir of the year after the storm from the governor’s perspective and lessons in leadership from the mega-disaster. For his efforts to rebuild the Mississippi Gulf Coast, he received the Thomas Jefferson Freedom Award. Other awards during his tenure as governor included being named Governor of the Year by Governing Magazine, receiving the Gulf Guardian Award by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in recognition of his work to rebuild Gulf Coast ecosystems, and receiving the Adam Smith Award from BIPAC to honor his pursuit of the principles of free enterprise.