Indeed, Palin and Romney were far from alone.
Former Speaker Newt Gingrich’s (Ga.)PAC, American Solutions for Winning the Future, donated nearly $214,000 to federal candidates and committees after Oct. 14 and almost $225,000 for the year, a surprisingly strong showing for a man who hasn’t held elected office in more than a decade. And those numbers don’t take into account any additional activity from his separate 527 account.
A spokesman told Roll Call that Gingrich helped raise more than $7 million for candidates in multiple races over the last two-year cycle through “all channels,” including speeches, fundraisers and direct mail.
There are many ways to generate goodwill in the early primary and caucus states where each presidential hopeful will need to attract a substantial following in the coming months.
Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, like Romney, paid considerable attention over the past year to downballot candidates in state and county races.
Like the other top-tier GOP contenders, Pawlenty devoted significant resources to helping elect more Republicans to Congress, sending $105,000 to 55 House candidates since the beginning of the year and another $60,000 to 21 Senate candidates.
But he also has donated more than $118,000 since to a slate of lesser-known candidates in New Hampshire and Iowa — the sites, of course, of the nation’s first presidential primary and caucus, respectively.
Pawlenty sent a batch of checks — generally from $1,000 to $2,000 — to roughly 40 state-level Iowa candidates, including the state auditor, treasurer and governor, all of whom won. And he distributed dozens more checks with smaller $150 and $250 donations to a group of 70 New Hampshire state House candidates and even county sheriff hopefuls.
“People in New Hampshire remember,” said Ryan Williams, a spokesman for the New Hampshire GOP. “Republican activists here appreciate the generosity of some of our national figures. They will certainly remember who helped them get elected.”
Palin’s PAC paid little attention to early primary states, according to her most recent federal filing. Of the 44 Republican federal candidates she supported since Oct. 14, just two of them — Reps.-elect Frank Guinta (N.H.) and Sandy Adams (Fla.) — represent districts in early primary states Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, South Carolina and Florida.
Instead, Palin focused her donations in states such as Arizona, Colorado, New York and Tennessee, where she gave $5,000 to three House candidates in each state. The former governor also supported candidates such as Rep.-elect Ben Quayle (Ariz.), the son of former Vice President Dan Quayle; Sean Bielat, who unsuccessfully challenged Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.); and Rep.-elect Tom Marino, who knocked off Blue Dog Rep. Christopher Carney (D-Pa.).
Williams noted that most of the local recipients in the Granite State ultimately prevailed in a landslide election that saw the GOP claim both chambers of the state House.
“Many will now have the opportunity to endorse in the presidential primary,” he continued. “It helps the potential 2012 candidates build relationships and make friends in New Hampshire. And New Hampshire is a state where relationships are very important.”
Romney also devoted significant resources to dozens of state legislative candidates in Iowa and New Hampshire, and he gave to contenders in South Carolina and Georgia, as well.
Involvement in the 2010 midterms is just the first step in what will be a long process of courting and attempts to win favor among influential Members under the Dome.