BARBOUR IN THE CHAIR
Former Republican National Committee Chairman Haley Barbour officially announced his run for governor, in what is already shaping up to be the most expensive political campaign in Mississippi history. Barbour, who will most likely face some challengers for the GOP nomination, is the frontrunner expected to face off against sitting Gov. Ronnie Musgrove next fall.
Barbour has been systematically traveling the state building support for a run. He wisely stepped out of the limelight late last year when Sen. Trent Lott created a furor over comments he made about Sen. Strom Thurmond, and didn't get roped into the internal Mississippi debate that ensued on Lott.
"Barbour's clean on that front," says a political consultant who has done work in Mississippi. "He's a much better politician than he was twenty years ago when he last ran for political office, and he's got a real shot at winning this thing." Barbour ran for the Senate in 1982 and lost.
Musgrove, while popular, has overseen record budget deficits despite all the federal dollars that Republican Senators Lott and Thad Cochran keep pouring into the state for business development. Barbour is said to have already been amassing a war chest to finance a run, and unlike other candidates who must travel around the country to fundraise for campaigns, Barbour can draw on extensive contacts he has cultivated with bigwig Republican donors ever since his time as RNC chair.
"He's certainly a national candidate, who will make this race a national race in the media and elsewhere," says the consultant. "Barbour should make this race fun."
LAST SHALL BE FIRST
Sen. John Edwards, who made what many inside his campaign say was his best trip yet through Iowa earlier this week, got perhaps one of his biggest breaks with the re-shuffling of speakers at the DNC winter meetings in Washington.
He had been scheduled to speak after Sen. John Kerry, but due to the Massachusetts senator's prostate problems and his desire to raise money instead of spout off to the party faithful, Kerry isn't on this weekend's agenda.
Now Edwards will wrap up the two-day event, following Rev. Al Sharpton and Rep. Dennis Kucinich as the final presidential candidate to speak.
Another winner may be Rep. Dick Gephardt, who wraps up the Friday schedule and follows Carol Moseley-Braun on the program. Moseley Braun, who has just begun speaking on the stump, has not wowed thus far with her speechifying, giving Gephardt an opportunity to shine.
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