Among the totems in Haley Barbour’s office in Jackson, Miss., is a cheeky sign that reads, “Power corrupts but absolute power is kinda cool.”
In this season of broad conservative ascent, Barbour is approaching absolute power. As chairman of the Republican Governors Association, he is masterminding the capture or retention of as many as 28 governorships for his party in November. His fundraising — expected to top $90 million by Election Day — has enabled him to pour millions of dollars into voter-turnout efforts that will help all kinds of Republicans further down the ballot and generate chits from grateful recipients. And his recent decision to drop $2 million into Florida’s up-for-grabs gubernatorial contest is a reminder of just how much clout one man can wield in a political realm widely regarded as atomized.