Republican White House contenders spent 2009 getting their ducks in a row for primary bids, and a big part of that was fundraising--setting up political action committees and crisscrossing the nation to raise money for them.
So who came out ahead?
Based on their Federal Election Commission filings (which were due last night), Mitt Romney and Sarah Palin took in the most money for their PACs, while Tim Pawlenty set a speedy fundraising pace in the last few months of '09, entering a strong yearly total with his PAC only having launched in October.
Here's a rundown of PAC money raised and distributed by 2012 contenders. It excludes the campaign money taken in by Thune (who ends the year with $6 million in his campaign coffers), Cantor, and Pence, all of whom will be running races in 2012. Since federal races are expensive, and since that money belongs to their campaign committees (not their PACs), I've left it off the list. Also note that Newt Gingrich is absent; his political group, American Solutions, is classified as a 527 and doesn't operate like a PAC. He started an American Solutions PAC at the end of last year, and at the close of the reporting period (Dec. 31), it only had $20, which it apparently got in the form of a loan--so the comparison isn't quite fair.
Here's the breakdown: