Saturday, July 29, 2006

SD 16 Candidates Face Off

In that state's most competitive state senate district, the three candidates - two Republican and one Democrat - faced off. A July 27th televised forum, hosted by the Suncoast Tiger Bay Club, featured what the St. Petersburg Times called "light sparring."

The Democrat, Rep. Charlie Justice moved quickly to criticize both his opponents for being the wrong side of the Schiavo case. Justice opposed both legislative efforts. Both Republican candidates - Representatives Kim Berfield and Frank Farkas - supported efforts by the legislature to interfere in the Schiavo case.

Berfield and Farkas also took potshots at each other, Berfield making veiled references to the ethical questions that rose up around Farkas concerned a junket paid for by gambling interests. For his part, Farkas alluded to the fact that Berfield does not own property and, until recently, lived with her parents.

Polls indicate that half of Republican voters are undecided between the two candidates. Justice is running unoppposed.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Cope Shifts into High Gear for Grassroots Push

Seeking to capitalize on the excitement generated by Howard Dean's visit to Tampa, Deborah Cope (see photo), Democratic candidate for HD 57, is promoting a number of grassroots events to her supporters. The events are intended to not only support her candidacy, but also build a grassroots infrastructure in Tampa - a program in keeping with the DNC's "50 State Strategy."

Besides the obvious - encouraging people to contribute to her campaign - she is coming out strongly in support of "Democratic Reunion."

Democratic Reunion is a national Democratic grassroots outreach event. The goal is to take the Democratic message to 2 million homes across the country. In theTampa Bay area, volunteers from Hillsborough, Pinellas, and Pasco Counties are being encouraged to attend a rally at Al Lopez Park and then heading out to knock on doors in all three counties.

One of the Hillsborough walks will take place in HD 57, where volunteers will be handing out information on Cope, as well as other candidates and for the Democratic party in general.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Howard Dean Headlines Charlie Justice House Party

As part of his "50 state strategy" to build the Democratic Party from the ground up, DNC Chairman Howard Dean appeared at a house party supporting Rep. Charlie Justice in his race for Senate District 16.

The event took place at the Tampa home of Debbe Kelley and Charlie Beehler.

Hilllsborough County Commission Raises Impact Fees

The Hillsborough County Commission voted to raise the county's low impact fees. The primary reason was to help fund infrastructure for k-12 schools in the county. Impact fees are levied against developers to pay for the increased costs associated with development - such as increased strains on transportation, utility, and educational infrastructure caused by the greater traffic and population development brings.

The Kathy Castor (see photo) campaign lost time in crowing about this achievement in improving funding for local schools

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Project Vote Smart on the Offensive in Defense of the National Political Awareness Test

Every election, Project Vote Smart sends out its questionnaire - the National Political Awareness Test (NPAT) - and every election they begin to place editorials in various papers expressing their outrage and sadness that so many candidates and elected officials are simply throwing the questionnaires in the trash. This editorial in the Sun-Sentinel, while seemingly lacking attribution, is almost certainly from Project Vote Smart.

The truth is, I have always recommended that candidates not fill out the NPAT. Despite, the fact that candidates can provide longer form answers, the NPAT's questions are too black and white, and are as likely to be a source of opposition research - allowing opponents to take answers and remarks out of context. As a result, I also tend to thank my lucky stars when I find out that our opponent has filled one out.

None of this is to say that Project Vote Smart is not a valuable resource for voters. A group of idealistic and underpaid young people on a ranch in Montana work tirelessly to research candidate across the country and they should be commended for their work. However, when remarks appear in local newspapers, criticizing (not usually, but occassionally by name) your local candidates for not filling out the NPAT, take it with a grain of salt.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Clearwater Voters to Decide Boat Slip Project

Clearwater's downtown waterfront has long been one of the most underutilized aspects of the city. As part of the city's continuing efforts to revitalize downtown, which have had only mixed success, the city council has approved a referendum on a proposed boat slip. The estimated cost of the project is $10.9 million. Boaters would rent slips for about $14 per foot, per month.

City Councilman Bill Jonson said that the boat slips would create a more traditional of a waterfront community and draw more people downtown to see the boats. "We have such a large waterfront, but we don't make very good use of it," he said.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

The Picture

This is the picture that represents the dichotomy State Representative Gus Bilirakis faces. Vice President Dick Cheney is a major draw among the hard right conservative donor class and a major negative among the voters - particularly the independents and moderates who will decide the race for 9th Congressional District.

The Bilirakis campaign is reporting that the fundraiser might have brought in as much as $230,000 for the Republican. However, the GOP has lately been accused of exagerrating the amounts that the White House has been bringing at fundraisers.

The amount does seem unlikely, based on the $500 requested ask for the main event - $1,000 to get a photograph taken with Cheney. There was also a round table event scheduled for a group to consist primarily of the host committe and also requiring a $1,000 contribution. The Bilirakis campaign described the crowd as being upwards of 200 men, women and children. Assuming 250 attendees (unlikely, since campaigns always exagerrate the size of crowds at their events) at $500, plus another $12,000 from the round table event - that's only $137,000. Unless almost the entire crowd - including the children - ponied up to have their picture taken with the Vice President, the actual take was probably closer to $100-150k.

Friday, July 21, 2006

HD 57 Draws Green Party Candidate

Brian Becker has joined the race for House District 57 as a Green Party candidate. Former chair of the Tampa group of the Sierra Club, community activist, and 2004 Democratic candidate, Deb Cope is the Democratic candidate. They are both hoping to unseat Republican incumbent, Faye Culp.

It has been suggested that Culp is vulnerable and unprepared for a difficult campaign.

Busansky Makes Cheney Visit an Issue

Republican candidates finding themselves in unexpectedly tough races are caught in a bind. Vice President Dick Cheney is one of the biggest fundraising draws in the nation for Republicans donors - but remains wildly unpopular among voters, with approval ratings in the teens.

State Representative Gus Bilirakis is learning this first hand. After disappointing 2nd quarter fundraising totals that saw his Democratic opponent, former Hillsborough County Commissioner Phyllis Busansky, outraise him by $70,000 - despite his father's connections - he cannot afford to have another lackluster filing. An event with Cheney, which might bring in upwards of $100,000, seems just the ticket.

Democrat Phyllis Busanky is responding by linking the Republican with the unpopular Bush administration and the even more unpopular Vice President, saying in a recent e-mail:

"Dick Cheney knows the administration needs Gus Bilirakis in Congress. Cheney knows that Bilirakis will be a rubber stamp for an administration that has been successful in destroying our diplomatic relationships abroad, decimating our natural environment, inflating our national deficit, and cutting our vital social programs. Amidst the turmoil of today’s world, Dick Cheney is flying to Florida for a fundraiser because he knows that if Gus Bilirakis goes to Washington, he will maintain the status quo. But we need change. "

Expect to see future mailings and television ads featuring the Vice President and Bilirakis standing together. Also expect to see Bilirakis backpedaling as quickly and discreetly as he can away from Cheney as soon Air Force 2 takes off from MacDill Air Force Base.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Deadline to File for Pinellas County Commission Approaches

Noon on Friday, July 21st is the last day for candidates to file to run for the Pinellas County Commission. There are races in the 2nd (at large), 4th, and 6th districts. For a full list of candidates visit VotePinellas.

6th district incumbent, John Moroni, thought he might escape competition, but on July 20, Democrat Leonard Dramesi announced that he would challenge the Republican.

National Journal Sees 9th Congressional District as a Potential "Late Breaker"

Chuck Todd, editor of the National Journal, writes about a number of unknowns he sees in the upcoming midterm elections. Number 7 on his list is the which races will be the late breakers - the ones that surprise everyone in the last months. As he looks at the dark horses who he thinks might suddenly break against type and common wisdom, he sees Tampa Bay's own 9th Congressional district, nothing that "sons of retiring members have had a tough time recently."

Todd, along with Stu Rothenberg and Charlie Cook of the Rothenberg and Cook Reports, respectively, is one of nation's premiere political prognosticators.

Alex Sink to Hold Live Chat July 21st

CFO candidate Alex Sink will he holding a live, online chat on Friday, July 21st from 1-2 pm EST. The chat will be hosted by and progressive Florida blogger, Kenneth Quinnell, will be moderating.

Sink has been a leader in utilizing electronic communications to reach out to supporters, earning media for her website and communicating with supporters via her blog (the most recent entry touches on the issue of rising property insurance premiums).

New Candidate Enters Pinellas County School Board Race

Ray Tampa, who was a teacher, assistant principal and principal in Pinellas schools, will run for the District 7 seat.

Former School Board member Janice Starling, who was running in District 3, withdrew from that race and threw her support to fellow candidate Lewis Williams. Starling served on the school board briefly in 2002 after Gov. Jeb Bush appointed her to replace board member Thomas Todd, who died in office. When she ran for election to the seat, Starling lost to School Board Member Mary Brown (see photo) in the primary election.

Brown is a candidate for the District 7 seat that Tampa is contesting.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Office of Insurance Regulation Approves 52.7% Rate Hike for State Farm

State Farm had requested a increase in their premiums of 79%. The Florida Office of Insurance Regulation recently approved a 52.7% rate hike for the insurance company. State Farm insures 1 in 5 Florida homeowners.

The increase is a lot more than Steve Burgess, the state's insurance consumer advocate, said is indicated. His staff's analysis of the original State Farm filing showed a far lower increase is warranted.

Rising insurance rates and insurance companies dropping Florida residents has been a major issues - particularly since the devastating results of the last two hurricane seasons - and politicians are starting to take notice.

Democrats introduced a website called Storming Mad to address the issue. Locally, Rep. Charlie Justice, who himself received a non-renewal notice from his insurer, has been speaking out on the issue.

Republican Rep. Randy Johnson, candidate for Chief Financial Officer, has made rising insurance rates the centerpiece of his campaign, embarking on a "Blue Tarp" tour, named after the ubiquitous blue tarps seen covering damaged property after a hurricane. Johnson has been notably unafraid to criticize his fellow Republicans for not doing enough to solve the problem of rising rates and dropped policies.

Sen. Rod Smith, a Democratic candidate for governor, has recently taken to carrying a piece of blue tarp with him everywhere, as a reminder of this growing threat to middle class families.

Busansky Moves to Emphasize Grassroots

After a surprising fundraising quarter when she outraised her Republican opponent by $70,000, Democratic candidate for the 9th CD, Phyllis Busanky, is moving quickly to complement her impressive numbers with a strong ground game. Her latest e-mail to supporters, references the last quarter totals (and the comparison to her opponent's numbers), but rather than asking for checks, asks for volunteer time.

One of the hard and fast rules for recruiting is to always ask potential volunteers to participate in specific activities, rather than asking for a more nebulous commitment to "do something." Another rule is to always ask for people to participate at or by a specific time. By and large, this latest call to arms adheres to those principles. Below at the activities suggested in the e-mail.

  • Phonebank for Phyllis! Shifts available all days and evenings this week
  • Host a coffee or house party for Phyllis
  • Canvass door-to-door in New Port Richey on Saturday 7/22
  • Help with a mailing at Pasco Democratic HQ on Thursday 7/20 at 4 PM (4927 SR54, New Port Richey)
  • Stop by our campaign headquarters to see how you can help, and bring a friend!
  • If you cannot make it to either location, contact Emily about what opportunities are available to volunteer at home!

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

AG Primary Race Resolves Itself

With the departure of Rep. Joe Negron (see photo) from the Republican primary for Attorney General, the general election match-up has been effectively resolved as a race between Sen. Walter "Skip" Campbell and former congressman and twice unsuccessful U.S. Senate candidate, Bill McCollum.

Campbell campaign manager Jeff Garcia professed himself satisfied with the contrast between the two men. Garcia is best known for managing Rep. Elaine Bloom's 2000 campaign against the long serving Congressman, Clay Shaw. Bloom came within 599 votes of unseating the incumbent in one of the nation's closest Congressional races that year. Shaw faces another challenge this year - this time from Sen. Ron Klein.

Embattled Safety Harbor Mayor Steps Down

Mayor Pam Corbino (see photo) stepped down as mayor of Safety Harbor just hours before a city commission meeting and with 20 months left in her term. Corbino had been under heavy pressure as the subject of both an ethics complaint filed by city comissioner Kathleen Earle and a recall petition that was being circulated by Safety Harbor residents. In her complaint, Earle alleged that Corbino asked a City Hall employee to obtain Earle's Social Security number.

Corbino denies that either had any influence on her decision to resign. She was elected to the city commission in 1992 and had served as mayor since 1999.

City Manager Logan and assistant city manager Ron Pianta announced their resignations last month.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Charlie Justice Planning Fundraiser/Birthday Bash

Rep. Charlie Justice, candidate for 16th Senate District, had a stellar fundraising quarter, but still has not shaken off the image of being an unimpressive fundraiser. He raised $ 75,391.69 - $55,930 in checks and the rest in the form of in kind donations during the second quarter, however $20,000 of that came in the form of a single check from the Florida Democratic Party. Another $16,461.69 was in the form of in kind donations from the party. In kind donations from parties typically come in the form of paying for staff and overhead. Because Representatives Kim Berfield and Frank Farkas are in a highly competitive primary (though Berfield has a definite, though not overwhelming edge in fundraising), the Republican Party of Florida will not be making contributions in this race until after the primary.

Despite continued weakness in fundraising, Justice is still gamely engaging in an aggressive fundraising schedule. One of his next events is a low dollar event celebrating his 38th birthday at a Devil Rays baseball game on July 21. Tickets to the event are... $38. Are firefighters will grilling for the pre-game tailgate.

The purpose of many low dollar events is less to raise significant funds, than to energize volunteers and supporters.

Campaign finance numbers are courtesy of the Florida Division of Elections.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Busansky Outperforms Bilirakis

In Florida's 9th Congressional District, former Hillsborough County Commissioner Phyllis Busansky raised significantly more money in the 2nd quarter of 2006 than Gus Bilirakis, a state representative and the son of incumbent Congressman Mike Bilirakis.

Busansky raised $335,000 in the last quarter, compared to $265,000 for Bilirakis - a $70,000 advantage. In terms of cash on hand, at the end of the first quarter, Busansky had $333,134 versus $873,252 for Bilirakis, who has benefited greatly by his father's connections. As a state representative, Bilirakis was not able to raise money during the legislative session.

There seems little question that Bilirakis will have a larger war chest, but it also seems very likely that his cash on hand advantage will continue to decline. Congressman Bilirakis' son will also benefit by name recognition by association and from a Republican leaning district.

Busansky believes she will need at least $1 million to win.

One of the major stories of this election cycle is the fundraising success that Democrats have had. While the Republican National Committee has consistently outperformed the Democratic National Committee, the Democratic Senate and Congressional committees have been putting the Republicans to shame - as have many Congressional challengers. This split dynamic appears to be driven by the ability of the RNC to call upon President Bush's star power among institutional donors to fill its coffers, but other committees and their candidates are being dragged down by the general malaise affecting the national GOP.

In the Cabinet Races, Sink the Leading Fundraiser

Tampa Democrat Alex Sink is the leading fundraiser, not just in the race for Chief Financial Officer, but among all candidates for Cabinet positions. Senate Leader Tom Lee (R-Brandon) and Rep. Randy Johnson (R-Celebration) raised $298,027 and $117,670 , respectively. Combined, the Republicans raised less than Sink's $508,586. The Republicans were hampered by their inability to raise money during the session, but they also risk being even more hamstrung now that they no longer have legislative carrots to dangle in front of donors.

Sink's success is almost certainly a combination of two factors. The first is her own rolodex from her time as Florida President of Bank of America and that of her husband, 2002 Democratic gubernatorial nominee, Bill McBride. The second is the perception that state dynamics have made her the frontrunner, and money flows towards perceived winners. The theory behind this is that Florida voters are looking for a change. Gerrymandering makes legislative change unlikely, but an open, statewide seat with no heavy hitters from the Republican side (Lee may be the Senate President, but that does not mean anybody outside of his suburban Tampa district knows who he is) provides the perfect opportunity for Florida voters to correct a perceived partisan imbalance.

Numbers courtesty of the Florida Division of Elections.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Bush Continues to Evince Openess to McCain-Bush '08 Rumors
Gov. Jeb Bush continues to drop hints that he is open to taking the number 2 spot on a Republican Presidential ticket - particularly if the number 1 is Arizona Senator John McCain.

"I like Sen. McCain. I think he's a good guy," Bush told reporters, then adding, "There's all sorts of time to worry about the 2008 election," he said.

In the past, when the number "2008" came up, Bush's knee jerk response was to express absolutely no interest in running for the presidency in two years. Only recently has begun parsing his words and speaking like... a politician.

After having positioned himself as a charismatic maverick six years ago, McCain is now aligning himself as the ultimate Washington insider - by positioning himself as the true heir to the legacy of George W. Bush. Recruiting the President's brother would finalize that transformation.

Justice Leads 2nd Quarter Fundraising for SD 16

Rep. Charlie Justice, who has been tagged in the past as a lackluster fundraiser, out performed both Republican candidates. With $55,930 in hard money contributions, plus in-kind contributions totalling $19,461.69 for the quarter beginning April 1 and ending June 30.

Republican Rep. Frank Farkas raised a comparatively unimpressed $24,733.89, with only $208.50 in in-kind contributions - less than half his first quarter totals - though he still has an impressive $342,221.30 in total contributions.

Rep. Kim Berfield raised a more impressive $342,221.30 (plus $500 in-kind). She still leads all candidates in with $427,878.50 rasied. That number is bolstered by a staggering $159,714.50 rasied in the third quarter of 2005. She has failed to raise even a third of that amount since, but it has given her the largest warchest of any of the three.

Justice has only rasied $109,780 in total - though, until the last quarter, had the lowest expenditures of the three.

All numbers are courtesy of the Florida Division of Elections.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Bush Delivers More Hints at the Nature of '08 Ambitions

Recently, this blog questioned why Gov. Jeb Bush would be spend $70,000 on polling if he had no ambitions for 2008. Now Bush has hinted that the truth is, he is not willing to put his name on the line for the Presidency in 2008, but might be open to joining a GOP ticket as a vice-presidential candidate. The question was asked in the context of McCain-Bush ticket.

This would explain why Bush's foundation recently spent over a quarter of a million dollars on some of the nation's top pollsters, political strategists, lobbyists, and fundraisers - he is raising his profile for a VP run. Such a campaign, if successful, would make him the automatic frontrunner in 2016, scaring off virtually all possible primary opponents. If unsuccessful, the failure would accrue to the man at the top of the ticket and Bush cash in on his increased national profile for a national campaign in 2012.

Tampa Bay's Hottest Federal Race

Florida's 9th Congressional District is still the biggest federal race in the Tampa Bay area. While Congressman Bill Young's district in the adjacent 10th will become a fiercely fought battleground the minute he retires (which many believe will not be until his son turns 25 and is eligible for run for the seat), the race for the open 1tth District certain to be decided in the primary, andthe U.S. Senate race having been effectively decided months ago in Sen. Bill Nelson's favor, only the 9th provides any real excitment for the voters of Hillsborough and Pinellas Counties.

The race pits Rep. Gus Bilirakis, the son of retiring incumbent, Mike Bilirakis, against former Hillsborough County Commissioner Phyllis Busansky. If the father were to run for re-election, this seat would not be on anybody's radar. But with no incumbent, a tricky year for national Republicans, and a Republican who vocally supports the unpopular Medicare prescription drug benefit, things have become less clear cut for the prognosticators.

In 2000, President Bush won this seat with 53% and increased his percentage to 57% in 2004. Democratic operative use a number called DPI - the Democratic Performance Index - to measure a district natural partisan tendencies. While this number is not publicly available, it seems likely that it is not in the 48-52 DPI range, which is considered the "swing district" range. But in a year where the national GOP is struggling, seats with DPIs in the low sixties are suddenly looking competitive.

At present, this seat is still second tier for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (the DCCC, or the "D Triple C" or just the "D Trip" in political shorthand) when compared to districs like the Florida 22nd, the Indiana 8th, the Ohio 18th, and the New Mexico 1st, it is poised to move up in the rankings.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Florida Insurers Seek Massive Rate Hikes for Homeowners Insurance

Florida insurers are asking Florida Insurance Commissioner Kevin McCarty (see picture) for permission to raise their premiums by 71% or more.

Nationwide filed for a 71% increase. State Farm had originally filed for a 79% increase, but has withdrawn their request, informing the state that 79% is insufficient.

Among the state's top five insurers, only Allstate, which operates two subsidiaries in the state, has not filed for a rate increase this year. United Services Automobile Association, the state's fifth largest insurer, is seeking an 8 percent rate hike.

Embedded in Nationwide's and State Farm's filings were 15 percent underwriting profits - larger than the state's recommended margin of 3.7 percent.

A 16 percent rate increase would have been sufficient for State Farm to meet its state recommended underwriting profit margin, according to a representative of the office of Florida's Insurance Consumer Advocate Steve Burgess.

Using terms such as "substantially overstated" and "unjustified," Florida Insurance Consumer Advocate Steve Burgess has asked state regulators for a second public hearing to address his own expert's review of State Farm's filing.

The Office of Insurance Regulation has turned Burgess down, saying the time for input was at a June public hearing in Orlando.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Bush Hires Professional Campaign Operatives

Governor Jeb Bush's Foundation for Florida's Future has been paying three of his former campaign operatives and a number of other leading campaign consultants, including:

Nearly $99,000 to Ann Herberger, Bush's campaign finance director during two campaign and a longtime political fund-raiser for his family.

Nearly $70,000 to Neil Newhouse of Washington-based GOP Public Opinion Strategies for polling last October.

$48,000 for "management services" to a lobbying and public-affairs firm whose staff includes Mandy Clark and Mandy Fletcher. Both worked on Bush's reelection campaign and on his brother's presidential reelection campaign.

$23,500 for "legal services" from Patton Boggs, the largest lobbying shop in Washington, DC.

$20,000 in February to GOP political strategist Adam Goodman's the Victory Group.

These actions are not the actions of a man moving into a life of quiet
philanthropy. This is what a man does when he raising his profile in preparation for a national campaign, which should to put to rest any suggestions that Gov. Bush does not want the presidency. However, it does raise the question as to whether he is moving up his schedule and planning run as early as 2008.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Heller's Fundraising Is the Real Deal

Questions about Bill Heller's fundraising prowess have been answered - to the tune of $42,260 for his campaign for House District 52. No other state house candidate in Pinellas has reported such a successful month of fundraising this year.

The nearest competitor was Angelo Capelli - the Republican frontrunner for HD 52 - who raised $37,030 over a three month period.
Numbers for Heller's opponent in the Democratic primary, Liz McCallum, are not yet available, but the total for all previous quarters was only $24,230.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Campaign Finance Reporting Period Closes - Reports Due July 10

The second quarter closed on June 30 and reports for all candidates and committees are due July 10. In the past, it was a tradition for candidates to send staffers to personally drop off the campaign contribution and expenditure reports at the office of the Supervisor of Elections on the last day to file, where reporters and staffers from their opponents would be waiting to see how everybody did. Now, virtually all filings are done electronically through the states Electronic Filing System (EFS), taking away from the sense of drama.

The remaining filing dates and the periods they cover are listed below.

04/01/06 – 06/30/06 (due July 10)
07/01/06 – 07/28/06 (due August 4)
07/29/06 – 08/11/06 (due August 18)
08/12/06 – 08/31/06 (due September 1)
09/01/06 – 09/15/06 (due September 22)
09/16/06 – 09/29/06 (due October 6)
09/30/06 – 10/13/06 (due October 20)
10/14/06 – 11/02/06 (due November 3)
11/03/06 – 12/31/06 (due January 10)

Some of the candidates whose filings will be of particular interest include Senate President Tom Lee and State Representative Randy Johnson. Lee alienated many in the donor community and it will interesting to see to what extent they may have shifted their donations to Johnson after the session ended. However, the real impact may not be visible until the filing due August 4.

Another candidate of interest is Representative Charlie Justice. Justice is known for his popularity among his constituents, but also for his distaste for the process of raising money.

Finally, Bill Heller, who joined the race for HD 52 late in the game, but with significant institutional backing. Now it remains to be seen how that support translated into dollars. His opponent in the primary, 2004 candidate Liz McCallum, has been running almost since the 2004 election ended, but it is expected that Heller will be able to quickly surpass her fundraising totals. If he is not well on his way, even though he has had only a month to raise money, his raison d'etre for entering the race may be questioned.