Look Out, GOP Candidates: Haley Barbour Looks Strong
Mississippi governor's fundraising is on fire
By Nick McMaster,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 24, 2010 6:02 PM CDT
Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, left, speaks with President Obama at Gulfport-Biloxi International Airport in Gulfport, Miss., Monday, June 14.   (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
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(Newser) – Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour dismisses talk of a 2012 presidential run, but he's quietly building a well-funded political operation staffed with some of the most talented conservative operatives, Politico reports. Barbour has taken in at least $580,500 from his three PACs, and he's expected to get as much as $60,000 more at a fundraiser tonight in Washington.

Tonight's host committee reveals the depth of Barbour's talent pool—the list is plump with lobbyists from the insurance, tobacco, defense, and pharmaceutical industries, along with potent political operatives. Publicly, Barbour says he's focused solely on running Mississippi—especially in the midst of the Gulf oil spill—but privately, sources tell Politico that the governor sees few worthy rivals among the likely candidates, and feels that the strength of his political operation makes him a viable contender.