(Reuters) - Rick Perry, the front-runner for the Republican presidential nomination to challenge President Barack Obama, ran a formidable fundraising operation during the past decade as governor of Texas.
Whoever gets the Republican nomination will need a warchest to compete with Obama, who raised a record $745 million during the 2008 election and who some say could pull in $1 billion this time.
Perry has raised more than $100 million since 2001 and $39 million in the last election alone, according to Texans for Public Justice (TPJ), a watchdog group.
Nearly half of that cash has come from mega-donors giving $100,000 or more under the Texas no-limits system.
Perry has not had to file federal fundraising totals yet for his presidential campaign, which he officially launched earlier this month.
Below is a list of Perry’s biggest donors while governor of Texas, according to TPJ. They do not include contributions that can be made to political action committees or other groups helping Perry, which can be unlimited.
* The political action committee of the Republican Governors Association, which Perry chaired until stepping down to run for president, has been Perry’s biggest donor, giving $4 million during nearly 11 years as governor.
* Billionaire Texas homebuilder Bob Perry, who is not related to the governor, has given $2.5 million. Perry is also a top donor to American Crossroads, a conservative spending group conceived in part by Republican strategist Karl Rove.
* Dallas billionaire and businessman Harold Simmons, who has ties to several Texas companies, has given $1.1 million.
Perry and Simmons both gave to Republican nominees Mitt Romney and former nominee Tim Pawlenty before Perry entered the race. Perry and Simmons also gave financial backing to the Swift Boat Veterans ads attacking 2004 Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry’s Vietnam war record.
* The Republican National State Elections Committee, has given $750,000 to Perry.
* Thomas and T. Dan Friedkin, father and son Houston millionaires, have donated $715,000. Perry earlier this month named Dan Friedkin to head the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission.
* Kenny Trout, a telecommunications executive who founded Excel Communications, has contributed $705,000.
* A political action committee backed by former Texas Republican Senator Phil Gramm has given $612,000. Perry appointed Wendy Lee Gramm, Phil Gramm’s wife, to head the Texas A&M board of regents and Texas Tax Reform commission.
* George Brint and Amanda Ryan, Dallas-based tax consultants for business, have given $563,000. Brint is now helping one of the numerous independent spending groups devoted to raising money for Perry.
* San Antonio Spurs owner Peter Holt has given $538,000. He is chairman of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission.
* The political action committee of AT&T Inc has contributed $506,000 to Perry, who has backed deregulation of phone companies in Texas.
* Lonnie “Bo” Pilgrim, founder of Pilgrim’s Pride, the second biggest poultry producer in the United States, has given $497,000.
* Robert and Mica Mosbacher Sr. of Mosbacher Energy Co. have donated $490,000. Mica Mosbacher is an appointee to the University of Houston regents. Robert Mosbacher is now deceased.