16. HALEY BARBOUR
Governor of Mississippi
About to be comfortably re-elected as Mississippi governor, Barbour is one of the most accomplished Republican executives in the United States. As a successful Southern governor with immense experience, he is a potential future presidential candidate who would be a clever pick for vice-presidential running mate in 2008. Received national plaudits for his handling of the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, which devastated Mississippi’s Gulf coast, while neighbouring Louisiana’s Democratic governor floundered.
Barbour, 60, has cut his state’s budget deficit in half without raising taxes and used the skills he honed as a Washington lobbyist to good effect in winning over a Democratic-led state legislature. A highly successful chair of the Republican National Committee, Barbour helped lay the foundations for the Republican Revolution and the takeover of Congress in 1994.