Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour has been selected by the UK Telegraph newspaper as one of the 20 most influential conservatives in the US. In fact, he ranked 14th this year just behind Supreme Court Justice John Roberts and ahead of former Speaker Newt Gingrich and former presidential candidates John McCain and Mike Huckabee.

His blurb read as follows . . .

Head of the Republican Governors Association after Mark Sanford stepped down in June, Barbour is a lawyer, lobbyist, political operative and Republican governor whose influence is huge at this key moment for American conservatism. As chairman of the Republican National Committee from 1993 to 1997 – the period of the “Republican Revolution” when the GOP won the Senate and House for the first time since 1954 – he has led his party back from the wilderness before. Made millions lobbying for the tobacco industry and others before entering electoral politics. Easily re-elected as Mississippi governor in 2007, Barbour is only the second Republican to secure the post since Reconstruction and won the backing of several of the state’s leading Democrats.

During Hurricane Katrina, his performance was compared to that of Rudy Giuliani in New York after the 9/11 attacks as he calmly ordered evacuations, threatened those who would break the law amid the carnage on the Gulf coast and declined to blame Bush or the federal government. As a personable, successful Southern governor with huge experience, he is a potential 2012 candidate but his lobbying background and slightly shambolic air would probably count him out. Recognising this, Barbour instead seems content to be one of the principal advocates for and strategists of another Republican revival. He warned last year, however, that it wouldn’t be easy. “The elections that matter for Republicans are in 2009 and ’10. 1993 paved the way for the 1994 congressional election. The 2009 elections in Virginia and New Jersey were a big tick on the box for the GOP and Barbour. He added: “The other thing that’s a fact is only once since 1896 has a party won the White House from the other party and only kept it four years. So history favours the Democrats but then again, we’re in unprecedented times in many, many ways.”

As Haley’s national star continues to rise, don’t be surprised to hear his name tossed in serious conversations for placement on a national ticket in 2012.