Some people call them the Washington elite. If Haley Barbour had run for president, he might have called them his base.
Now that that the Mississippi governor has decided to stay out of the 2012 race, the army of operatives, activists, lobbyists and donors he cultivated over decades in public life is up for grabs.
And where many of them eventually land could help determine the outcome of the GOP nomination.
With Barbour’s announcement Monday, a wide open field just got a little wider, Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels’ fortunes got a little better and Mitt Romney’s calculus got a new set of variables.
A Reagan White House political director, former chairman of the Republican National Committee and the Republican Governors Association, and namesake of the white-shoe lobbying outfit BGR Group, Barbour could have raised millions with one pass through his rolodex.
Now, it’s not clear whether any Republican not named Romney will be able to capture the broad establishment support and cash that would have gravitated naturally to Barbour.