When Gov. Haley R. Barbour completes his second term on Jan. 10, he will be the second man to serve consecutive terms as governor since Mississippi ended the one-term rule twenty-five years ago. The previous person to accomplish reelection, another Republican, was Kirk Fordice.

Fordice left a legacy of confrontation with the Legislature which would routinely over-ride his vetoes. He battled then Attorney General Mike Moore over tobacco litigation authority and lost. It was not unusual to see him jogging through downtown Jackson with a pistol holstered to his side and his relationship with the press was less than cordial.

In spite of these things, or because of them, voters loved Fordice and for many Mississippians, he made it "ok" to become a Republican. During his administration, Republican numbers increased in the Legislature and in the Republican Primary. Fordice brought his private sector ideas to government and enacted significant achievements: the 98 percent budget rule; abolition of the marriage penalty tax for couples filing jointly; abolition of the capital gains tax on Mississippi-based companies for state income tax purposes; and workers compensation reforms along with early steps in tort reform.

Barbour did not go jogging with a pistol, but he and First Lady Marsha Barbour did team up with Blue Cross & Blue Shield for "Let's Go Walking, Mississippi" to promote better health. Barbour battled both Attorney General Jim Hood and his predecessor Moore over the $20 million in tobacco litigation funds annually diverted to the nonprofit Moore oversaw; Barbour won.

Barbour leaves office with a perfect score on vetoes: the Legislature never overturned a veto. Barbour vetoed an eminent domain reform bill supported by then Lieutenant Governor Phil Bryant that passed the Senate 51-0. The Senate needed to keep 34 of those 51 votes to override Barbour's veto. They could only muster 28.



Barbour used one of our darkest hours to show the nation and the world our resiliance.



Barbour restructured the workforce training system enabling our community colleges to use idle funds to provide skills training, streamlined government jurisdiction over the system and reduced employers' unemployment insurance tax costs. The Wall Street Journal called Barbour's litigation reform package the most comprehensive tort reform in the country. Toyota said they would not have come to Mississippi without tort reform. Barbour streamlined agencies to do more with less. At Medicaid, he cut cost and abuse with policies that encouraged the use of generic drugs, and requirements that recertification be conducted face to face.

Barbour used one of Mississippi's darkest hours to show the nation and the world the brightness of our people. There was a stark contrast in the leadership among Barbour and other elected officials in response to Hurricane Katrina. In the midst of working with private and public teams during emergency response, he began immediately crafting the necessary policy efforts for long term recovery. He pledged to rebuild the Coast better than before. His infrastructure plans for future development, insistence on local leaders making decisions and efforts with the Port of Gulfport will generate economic benefits and job creation for decades to come.

Barbour deserves credit for the current dominance of the Mississippi Republican Party. His fundraising prowess and strategy provided critical funds for the 2007 near-sweep of statewide elected officials for the MSGOP, and his efforts to build a Republican Legislature began during his own 2003 campaign and culminated in the takeover of the House of Representatives by Republican voters in 2011.

All of the more than thirty judicial appointments by Barbour who have sought reelection have won except one, who was defeated by another Barbour appointee. Barbour elevated Congressman Roger Wicker to fill the U.S. Senate seat vacated by Trent Lott. Wicker won reelection to the Senate by defeating former Governor Ronnie Musgrove (Barbour put the "former" in that title by defeating Musgrove in 2003).

Barbour leaves office with substantial studies, reports and budget recommendations for policy reforms to improve Mississippi taxes, government retirement, procurement and to decrease the size and expense of government. Barbour says the greatest challenge to Mississippi's education, job, health and law enforcement efforts is out-of-wedlock births.

Fordice did not have a veto-proof legislature, but his leadership laid the groundwork for that tool for Barbour. Barbour's efforts to create a Republican majority Legislature did not succeed until the end of his second term, but he leaves Republican control as a legacy for his successor.

Perhaps the most visible Fordice legacy was his elevation of a Rankin County legislator Phil Bryant to the post of State Auditor after the resignation of Democrat Steve Patterson. On Jan. 10, Bryant will be sworn in to follow Barbour as Governor of Mississippi.

It is too early to predict Barbour's greatest legacy, but also too early to close the book on him. I suspect Barbour will continue to impact the future of Mississippi and national policy and politics for many more years, yet.



Brian Perry is a partner in a public affairs firm. Reach him at reasonablyright@brianperry.ms.