Pawlenty’s abundant PAC cash going to very conservative candidates

WASHINGTON — Gov. Tim Pawlenty’s Freedom First PAC has nearly $940,000 cash-on-hand today after pulling in $723,500 in the first quarter of the year.

It’s a good number for Pawlenty, a presidential aspirant who is competing with the much better-known Mitt Romney, Sarah Palin, Newt Gingrich and Mike Huckabee for airtime. He’s still not included in many tracking polls, Public Policy Polls tweeted me that his “exceptionally low name [recongnition] makes him indistinguishable from [John] Thune, [Mitch] Daniels, etc.”

But Pawlenty is the only hopeful not named Romney who is doing the organizational work typically expected of a contender.

Freedom First donated almost $84,000 this quarter, with much of that going to very conservative GOP candidates. Perhaps the best example of that is in South Carolina.

Pawlenty’s PAC gave $2,000 to South Carolina’s Joe Wilson (the guy who yelled “You Lie” when President Obama spoke to Congress last September), $2,000 to Trey Gowdy (who knocked off the very-conservative-but-apparently-not-enough Rep. Bob Inglis in a primary), $3,500 to gubernatorial candidate and rising star Nikki Haley and a further $3,000 to Sen. Jim DeMint (with no dollars set aside for his counterpart, the more moderate Lindsay Graham).

Pawlenty’s only in-state donation this quarter was $2,400 to Randy Demmer, who is challenging Rep. Tim Walz in the 1st District. FEC records show he gave $2,400 to all three GOP incumbents in the first quarter. He also gave $10,000 to the NRCC, which aims to elect Republicans to the House.

The governor’s numbers came in below Mitt Romney, the fundraising leader among presidential aspirants, but he’ll be pleased to largely match pace with Sarah Palin’s PAC in donations.

I’d expect Pawlenty’s numbers to rise substantially in the 3rd quarter, given that his travels won’t be constrained by the legislature being in session in St. Paul.

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