By Gary P Jackson
Sarah Palin, who isn't an announced candidate for president .... yet .... is out-raising Mitt Romney, who has declared, in the important state of Ohio:
WASHINGTON — The first votes for the 2012 GOP presidential nomination are still months away, but Ohioans have already given nearly a quarter of a million dollars to would-be candidates, including $58,000 to "SarahPAC," former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin’s political action committee.
Trailing just behind Palin in cash from Ohioans is former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney’s "Free and Strong America PAC," which has received $50,000.
Ohio, long a bellwether in presidential politics, isn’t necessarily considered a must-win for Republican primary candidates.
But the enthusiasm a candidate musters in the Buckeye state — including financial contributions — can be indicative of how they’ll do in the general election.
"Ohio’s always going to be a focus of presidential elections," said Dave Levinthal, a spokesman for the Center for Responsive Politics, which collects and analyzes data about political fundraising. "If one candidate is doing particularly well there, that could to some degree foreshadow their success later."
Ohio money is important, too.
Before presidential candidates launch formal campaigns, they raise money through leadership PACs — political action committees that politicians use for indirect sponsoring of a candidacy. The funds can be used for travel, political consulting fees or polling.
Levinthal calls those PACs a "barometer" of early support.
Later, Ohio can be expected to be a significant donor to campaign coffers.
In 2008, presidential campaign donations from Ohio totaled nearly $16 million.
Palin has long cast a shadow on the Republican field, though she has not declared her candidacy. Unless she announces she is not running, and maybe even after that, she will remain a factor.
"I think Sarah Palin is a true patriotic American," said Patricia Alderson, 62, a community organizer for charitable giving from West Chester Twp. in Butler County who gave SarahPAC $2,000 in November 2009. "She wants to do the right thing. She’s a person who speaks from her heart and she reminds me of a woman fighting for her children. Every time she talks, I’m like, ‘you go, girl.’ "
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