Tim Pawlenty's political fundraising trounced by Mitt Romney

Tim Pawlenty's Political Action Committee, Freedom First is reporting today that it raised $723,501 in the second quarter of this year, raising its yearly total to about $1.3 million.

It sounds like a lot of money, until you consider that Mitt Romney, one of Pawlenty's likely opponents in a 2012 presidential primary, has raised more than twice that much -- nearly $3.5 million -- so far in 2010. Sarah Palin's PAC has also raised about $1.3 million this year.

PACs are a handy indicator for political candidates to demonstrate their popularity, but they're also a useful way of buying the support of other politicians. Romney is reportedly spreading his largesse around key primary states, throwing big money at politicians in Iowa, South Carolina and Texas.

Pawlenty is doing much the same, he just has less to work with. He's handed out about $84,000 so far, compared to Romney's $400,000.

"Pawlenty's numbers look good if you're running for governor, but when you're running for president and you're already lagging in name-recognition, it looks like you're stuck," says David Schultz, a political science professor at Hamline University. "He's got until the end of the year to close the fund-raising gap -- after that he's just another ex-governor."

Pawlenty has been throwing his weight around in other ways, of course: this week he threw his his weight behind the Republican candidate in a race the GOP lost more than a year ago.

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