Senate Pro Tem Billy Hewes (R-Gulfport) announced over the summer that he would be running for the Lt. Governor’s seat in 2011.

Internal emails forwarded to YallPolitics indicate that his first major fundraising event to be held on August 27 already has over $420,000 raised. That’s a staggering single event raise almost two years away for a Republican primary candidate who has never held statewide office.

Those following Republican politics knows that money is a sign of legitimacy. Republicans absolutely cannot have success without quality execution of fundraising. Though there will likely be more known names with higher name ID and more money running against Hewes in a Republican primary, Hewes will absolutely be a legitimate candidate. His having success in fundraising will also likely push marginal candidates out of that race and will narrow the field early.

Coast Republicans close to Hewes were giddy. The comparison was made to Governor Haley Barbour’s fundraiser with Vice President Dick Chaney, that grossed $500K, but netted far less due to security and travel involved. One supporter noted that unless Hewes chartered Air Force One to get from his house to the event, the August 27 event will likely net higher than the Barbour event did.

The names are really starting to come out of the woodwork and the slate is beginning to be set for the 2011 statewide races.