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Government Affairs & Advocacy – 2024

Mississippi’s Top 50 Most Influential

Austin Barbour grew up in politics in his native state of Mississippi. Politics has always been his passion and played a central role in his professional career. Since starting his first business when he was a freshman at Ole Miss, he’s gone on to own and operate a number of small businesses in his native Mississippi. Currently, he is the Managing Partner of the Clearwater Group, the Jackson, MS based government affairs company he founded in 2011. He is also a Partner in Strategic Partners & Media, a full-service advertising and consulting firm he joined in 2013.

Austin is one of the most visible links between Mississippi politics and the rest of the country. He is often quoted in national media outlets for his take on state and federal political events. He is also a regular on Mississippi Public Broadcasting’s @Issue program, which is a weekly rundown of the state’s political and legislative issues

Austin’s first official entrance to the political scene was when he served as Finance Director for Haley Barbour’s first campaign for Mississippi Governor in 2003. The Barbour for Governor campaign shattered all state campaign fundraising records. He moved on to serve as a member of the National Finance Committee for President George W. Bush’s 2004 re-election campaign. In 2008, Austin served as Campaign Manager for Senator Roger Wicker’s first U.S. Senate bid. In 2014, he served as a Senior Strategist in Senator Thad Cochran’s primary campaign and went on to run the campaign’s operations during the historic runoff election. Cochran’s runoff victory was described by the national media as “stunning”  and “a miracle.” 

Austin led the messaging and paid media efforts for a Super PAC established to support Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith’s election efforts. In 2016, Austin ran the national Super PAC for Governor Rick Perry’s presidential campaign and served as a Senior Advisor to Governor Jeb Bush’s presidential campaign. Additionally, Austin has taken on numerous roles throughout the country as a lead consultant and strategist for many campaigns, PACs, and Fortune 100 companies. Recognized as one of the nation’s top fundraisers, Austin has worked in many roles, including serving as a National Finance Chairman for the 2012 Romney campaign (for which he was also a Senior Member of the strategy team), a member of the RGA’s National Finance Committee, the State Finance Chairman for the Mississippi Republican Party, and a National Finance Consultant for the National Republican Senatorial Committee. 

Austin was born and raised in Yazoo City, MS. He met his wife, Deidre, while they both attended Ole Miss. Austin and Deidre live in Jackson and spend much of their time following their two children, Bo and Ebbie, from one sporting event to another.