Priebus Barbour

January 17, 2011

Reince Priebus’ election as Republican National Committee (RNC) chair shows that Haley Barbour is putting in place the elements of power that make him (not Sarah Palin) the most likely Republican nominee for President. 

Here are some bits of evidence.

  • So many commentators view Reince Priebus as a Barbour ally that Priebus was forced to deny it and a Google search for “Priebus Barbour” yields at least 10 pages of results.
  • Barbour has a network. He was Chairman of the Republican Governors Association during the 2010 election and was able to turn that organization into a major fund raiser.   Barbour is a well regarded former Republican National Committee (RNC) chair.  He is a successful Governor.
  • Barbour cannot run again for Governor in 2011.  Power is addicting.  It is a good bet that Barbour has the habit, and that he is now thinking about how he will get his next fix.  Politico reports that Barbour has already sent a direct mail piece to Iowa Republicans.

All this puts Barbour at the top of Angelo Machiavelli’s list of people to watch for the Republican nomination.  What about the favorite Sarah Palin?  She has a higher profile than Barbour, and her notoriety is an obstacle to him and other viable candidates.  Palin is a fool and having her as the most prominent image of the Republican Party probably hurts Republicans and helps Democrats with many independent voters.  

It seems likely that Barbour and other mainstream Republicans will seek to undermine Palin and that in the coming months; she will suffer a string of well publicized embarrassing incidents.  If this happens it will be confirming evidence that candidates like Barbour a mobilizing. 

At this point, every candidate for the Republican nomination is a long-shot. Popular U.K. betting site paddypower.com is giving 3 to 1 odds for Palin (a $1 bet pays $3) and has Barbour far behind at 16 to 1odds with 10 other candidates between him and Palin.

However, as a modern Machiavellian, I view the odds differently.  Power is a matter of resources, organization, and control.  Barbour, with his connections to the Republican Governor’s association and with an ally in the RNC, now has more of these requisites than most other potential Republican candidates. I would certainly bet on Barbour at 10 to 1.

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