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Mississippi governor to meet with Upstate GOP leaders

Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, a possible 2012 presidential contender, is holding private meetings with Republican activists and donors in Greenville and Spartanburg today — traditionally, part of the process of considering a run for the nation’s top office.

“He’s just coming through town to meet with a few people to test the waters, like a lot of other people are preparing to do,” said Barry Wynn, a former state Republican Party chairman. “It’s very preliminary. He knows a lot of folks, and I think he’s trying to touch base with the people he knows and meet some new people. It’s that season.”

Barbour has a history in the Palmetto State, Wynn said, given its place in the presidential nominating process. Barbour is the past chairman of the Republican National Committee and Republican Governor’s Association. Every GOP presidential candidate to win South Carolina has gone on to win the party’s nomination since 1980.

Today’s meetings were arranged by Republican strategist Chip Felkel of Greenville, who has been friends with Barbour for 20 years. Felkel worked for the RNC when Barbour was a national committeeman from Mississippi in the early 1990s.

Barbour also met with a group of party insiders in Columbia following Gov. Nikki Haley’s inauguration this month.

Today’s Spartanburg meeting is at the Palladian Group, the downtown business owned by state GOP Chairwoman Karen Floyd.

State GOP spokesman Joel Sawyer said Floyd would host many such events throughout the election cycle. He pointed to a private fundraiser at Floyd’s home that featured Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, another possible 2012 candidate, in June.

Barbour last came to Spartanburg in March, when he headlined a state and county GOP fundraiser.

By Jason Spencer