Haley Barbour currently resides in the Mississippi Governor’s mansion, so I don’t see why Reed’s political operative status should be much of a barrier. The state party was pretty much moribund until he took over as chairman and had great success in 2002. The Washington Times suggests Reed is getting ready to move into elected office. We’ll see.
I once met Ralph Reed after missing him in my job interview at his firm (Yes, I was eventually offered a research/writing job, but I was already better employed). He was at the Capitol observing Democrat redistricting in action (which didn't work out the way they hoped). My recollection is that he was extremely handsome, much better than he appears on television. He was also quite personable. Like a good politico, he remembered a mutual friend we share and gave me the time of day.
If he has the right temperament, I think this could be a good move. He’s well-practiced at handling the press and is a bonafide intellectual. Remember that he’s got an Emory Ph.D. hanging on the wall. The Pat Robertson adventure short-circuited an academic career before it started.