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Posted at 7:38 AM ET, 01/27/2011

Palin's PAC raised $279k to close 2010

By Aaron Blake and Chris Cillizza

Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin's political action committee saw its fundraising fall off at the end of the year, but it still turned in a good number.

Sarah PAC raised $279,000 between Nov. 23 and Dec. 31. That's down from $469,000 raised during the month-plus after the election, but it's still a better pace than most presidential candidates have been managing.

The PAC spent $221,000 and had just more than $1.3 million on hand -- money that Palin can use as she continues to weigh a run at the 2012 GOP presidential nomination.

PAC fundraising numbers weren't available early Thursday for the other potential GOP hopefuls who have their own PACs. The filing deadline is Monday.

In the last filing period, Palin led all comers, with former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney's PACs coming in second and third, respectively.

Romney outraised the competition for much of 2010, pulling in nearly $5.3 million through Nov. 22 for his Free and Strong America PAC. He had nearly $1.1 million cash on hand.

Palin's PAC raised more than $3.5 million for the year, but began ramping up after the 2010 election in November -- partially, no doubt, because of a book tour the candidate had embarked on.

Her latest filing shows at least one interesting line item -- a $2,500 check she wrote to Rep. Michele Bachmann's (R-Minn.) reelection campaign was never cashed. Palin and Bachmann represent very much the same wing of the Republican Party and are often compared to each other. Palin did a fundraiser for Bachmann in April, and Bachmann raised gobs of money at the end of her House campaign and had more than $2 million left over.

PAC money is raised on a much smaller scale than money that is raised for a presidential campaign, but looking at a potential candidate's PAC numbers can provide a good indication of their fundraising prowess, since campaign finance limits still apply (albeit different than regular campaign limits).

Palin has been setting a good pace since the 2010 election ended and could probably raise plenty of money from small-dollar donors if she ran for president. The percentage of small-dollar donors on her PAC filing is similar to that of other tea party candidates like Sharron Angle and Christine O'Donnell.

More poll trouble for Stabenow: Another poll shows Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) could have a real tough race on her hands in 2012.

The poll was conducted by GOP pollster Wilson Research Strategies for the GOP consulting firm Sterling Corporation and shows Stabenow with slight leads on two oft-mentioned potential GOP opponents -- former Rep. Pete Hoekstra and former Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land.

Stabenow leads Land 46 percent to 41 percent, and she bests Hoekstra 47 percent to 41 percent.

But the two-term senator is under 50 percent and gets just 33 percent of voters to say they will definitely vote to reelect her -- a sign that Republicans could win with the right candidate here.

Stabenow wasn't much of a GOP target six years ago, in a good Democratic year. But the Democrats took a big hit in Michigan in 2010, and voters frustrated by an exceedingly poor economy are change-minded enough to consider alternatives.

Despite the leanings of the pollster, this poll might actually be Stabenow's best since the November election. A poll from Democratic-leaning automated pollster Public Policy Polling last month showed she and Hoekstra in a statistical tie; she led Land by four. And a Detroit News/WDIV-TV poll this month showed her approval rating at just 37 percent, with only 23 percent committed to reelecting her.

Redistricting intrigue in Florida:Democrats are crying foul after Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) put a halt to the implementation of two new measures that seek to take the politics out of redistricting, and now a fellow Republican is joining them.

Scott this week withdrew a Justice Department filing, which had been filed by then-Gov. Charlie Crist (I) last month, requesting pre-clearance to implement the measures, which both passed with 63 percent of the vote in November.

Republicans control the redistricting process, and the ballot measures represent a potentially important safeguard for Democrats against an ambitious GOP gerrymander.

Scott's office has said the withdrawn filing represents a blanket effort to review all new rules and contracts and that it would not have any effect on 2012 redistricting.

But GOP Florida state Sen. Mike Fasano is joining the Democrats' chorus, sending Scott a letter urging him to resume the federal review.

The new constitutional amendments are a major x-factor in the coming round of redistricting, with plenty of debate about just how much they will restrict gerrymandering (the issue is likely headed to court). Republicans currently hold 19 of 25 congressional districts in the state, thanks to a very successful gerrymander done 10 years ago. If the measures have teeth, Democrats could pick up multiple seats in the swing state and take a real bite out of the GOP's new House majority.

Fixbits

In an appearance on Fox News last night, Romney stepped up up his criticism of President Obama but said he hasn't yet decided on a presidential run.

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) said he "strongly disagrees" with President Obama's plan to phase out earmarks. Manchin, who is up for reelection in 2012, comes from a state that has benefited on a massive scale from federal largesse -- much of it courtesy of the late Sen. Robert C. Byrd (D-W.Va.), whose seat Manchin now occupies.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) wants Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) to run for president, though he stopped short of an endorsement. Thune is the only senator thought to be seriously considering a run for president in 2012.

Former Nevada GOP Senate candidate Sharron Angle isn't ruling out a run for president.

Illinois Supreme Court Justice Anne Burke says she will not recuse herself from Rahm Emanuel's residency case, despite the fact that her husband is an alderman who supports another candidate in the Chicago mayor's race.

Must-reads

"The political education of Michelle Rhee" -- Ben Smith and Byron Tau, Politico

"Effect of House GOP's anti-campaign-financing bill would be felt by Republicans" -- Dan Eggen, Washington Post

"DCCC Chairman Israel: 'I'm Rahm Emanuel without the curse words'" -- Sean J. Miller and Shane D'Aprile, The Hill

"Lengthy Invisible Primary Has Historical Precedence" -- Chris Peleo-Lazar, National Journal

"2012 Presidential Contenders: State PACs Rev Up the Race" -- National Institute on Money in State Politics

By Aaron Blake and Chris Cillizza  | January 27, 2011; 7:38 AM ET
Categories:  Morning Fix  
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