Pawlenty Raised $1.2 Million In Fourth Quarter

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Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty will post a strong fundraising total for the fourth quarter of 2009 this weekend when the Federal Election Commission's financial filing deadline arrives this weekend.

Pawlenty's political organization, the Freedom First PAC, took in over $1.2 million between Oct. 31 and Dec. 31, according to an official with the organization.

That's a strong showing for the Minnesota governor in the first quarter of his political action committee's existence. The Freedom First PAC was formed Oct. 1, which means its upcoming report with the FEC will be its first ever.

Mitt Romney's Free and Strong America PAC took in $2.9 million in all of 2009, that group announced earlier today, and we have yet to see how other 2012 contenders, such as Sarah Palin and Mike Huckabee, fared in fundraising during the second half of 2010. The Federal Election Commission's year-end filing deadline is 11:59 p.m this Sunday, so the information should be available Monday.

Never having run for nationwide office, Pawlenty doesn't enjoy the celebrity status or national name recognition of Romney, Palin, and Huckabee, but he is viewed as a serious contender for the 2012 Republican nomination. He's traveled to Iowa, New Hampshire, and Florida for speaking engagements and local fundraisers.

"As more people learn about the governor, they're really impressed by his record in Minnesota, and his natural ability to connect with people. He's an optimistic, authentic leader with a conservative record of balancing budgets and passing innovative reforms. The PAC is off to a solid start, and we look forward to playing a big role in the ideas debate, and in supporting the next generation of Republican leaders," said Phil Musser, senior advisor to Pawlenty's PAC.

Pawlenty's push for donations and recognition will continue in the first half of 2010: he'll speak at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington, DC, as well as the Southern Republican Leadership Conference, and he's booked speeches to local parties and groups in North Carolina, Missouri, and Dallas.

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Chris Good is a political reporter for ABC News. He was previously an associate editor at The Atlantic and a reporter for The Hill.

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