Haley Barbour succeeded in installing a Republican majority in the Legislature and, no doubt inadvertently, he also did legislative Democrats a favor.
He literally forced House Democrats in self defense to organize for the first time a party caucus, and naming half dozen members to floor leadership positions.
A minority in the Legislature for the first time since 1875 (yes, 1875), House Democrats have elected a minority leader, plus a deputy leader and four floor leaders. That was unthinkable until Barbour, the consummate political operative, arrived on the scene in 2003 and made partisanship a major factor in the Legislature.
Just as the GOP had zeroed on Nancy Pelosi as the party’s chief enemy in the 2010 midterm elections, here Barbour picked Democratic House Speaker Billy McCoy as his target. He tried but failed in 2008 to defeat McCoy’s re-election as speaker.