Gov. Mark Sanford has helped break fundraising records for the Republican Governor's Association, according to figures released by the group Monday.
The centerpiece of the group's efforts to raise money is their annual dinner held in conjunction with the National Governor's Association convention. Sanford, named by many Republicans as a potential vice presidential candidate, served as chairman for the dinner, which raised $10.6 million.
The money will be used to help elect Republican governors in selected races later this year. A dozen governorships are up for election in 2008.
"He's well-known throughout the nation for being a strong conservative," said RGA spokesman Chris Schrimpf. Donors know Sanford's background, Schrimpf said, which makes them more likely to give.
The group is in the midst of a long-term plan for key 2010 election, where the 36 gubernatorial winners may redraw Congressional maps across the country.
Among its largest donors, according to documents the RGA filed with the Internal Revenue Service, are:
• Pfizer, who donated $325,000 last year
• UST Public Affairs, which donated $137,599
• The National Rifle Association, which donated $104,000
The largest South Carolina-based donors were AT&T, with $275,000, and payday lender Advance America of Spartanburg, which gave $15,500.
"Governors are some of the most successful and popular leaders in our party," Sanford said in a written statement. "We worked hard to support the RGA Gala because we recognize how important RGA and governors are to the future of the party and our country."
Sanford's fundraising prowess also adds another item to a resume drawing attention as a potential vice presidential choice for presumptive GOP nominee John McCain.
"Every addition to the resume is a help," said Blease Graham, a political scientist at the University of South Carolina. "All of the contenders at this point are going to have good resumes."
Sanford appeared on Fox News Sunday with fellow GOP Gov. Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota. Sanford said he was not focused on being named to a ticket, and would consider the "lightning strike" if it occurred.