A Quick Look at T-Paw

by Robert Costa

Mitt Romney is in the headlines today for his big fundraising quarter, but Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R., Minn.), another potential 2012 hopeful, is also getting some buzz. MinnPost.com takes a closer look at Pawlenty’s PAC numbers:

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. . . 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.

NBC’s First Read briefs us on T-Paw’s inner circle:

The soon-to-be ex-governor’s inner circle includes the co-chairmen of his Freedom First PAC — strategist/lobbyist Vin Weber and Morgan Stanley’s Bill Strong. Senior advisers include strategist Phil Musser (who’s in charge of the PAC’s day-to-day operations), former Bush political director Sara Taylor, and strategist Terry Nelson. Brian Haley is the PAC’s finance director; Brian Hook is its policy director; former RNC spokesman Alex Conant is the communications director; Michael Toner is the counsel; and the media team includes Pat Hynes, Liz Mair, Patrick Ruffini, and Mindy Finn. Handling the PAC’ s operations is Annie Kelly, and the governor’s former deputy chief of staff, Brian McClung, is an adviser. . . Pawlenty, who is also the vice chairman of the Republican Governors Association, is in Aspen, CO, today for an RGA event at the Aspen Institute with RGA Chairman Haley Barbour. He stays in Colorado through Friday to speak to the Denver County Republican Party.