Politico reports that Sarah Palin’s fundraising group “steps into the big leagues” by raising $866,000 in the second quarter – the highest amount since SarahPAC was formed in January 2009. Palin’s aggressive fundraising, and her recent endorsement of a number of winning conservative women candidates in recent primaries, means the top Republican “mama grizzly” can’t be ruled out as a presidential candidate in 2012.

A new financial report filed Sunday evening showed Sarah Palin’s political action committee has taken its fundraising to a higher level – and suggests that she has begun building a more sophisticated political operation in place of a bare-bones organization powered mostly by her rock star status and scrappy on-line presence. The report, filed with the Federal Election Commission, shows that Palin’s political action committee raised more money in the second quarter of this year – $866,000 – than it had in any previous three-month stretch since Palin formed the group in January 2009.

Time’s Jay Newton-Small adds that Palin is following a playbook she wrote herself years ago:

“In many ways, Palin’s moves mirror her run for governor. She came from the outside, taking down the GOP establishment, including the formidable Governor Frank Murkowski. She stayed on the outside for months, not bothering to build a campaign but delivering key speeches across the state attacking ‘the old boys club’ that raised speculation she’d potentially run. And, finally, when she did announce her campaign burst into life fully formed.”