Monday, January 04, 2010

They're Off! 2010 Action Starts Now; Odds Set On All Major Races As Hopefuls Break From The Starting Gate; How Will You Bet? 

The calendar has turned and the 2010 election year is finally and officially here. What better way to kick off the action than by consulting our Alligators and wall-leaners to set the first round of odds on all the major races?

So we gathered their input, shook it around in a bowl of red chile powder and then took it to the banks of the Rio Grande where we mediated over it. Finally, we gathered our posse of Alligators and set the final odds in a secret ceremony patterned after northern New Mexican Penitente rites. (Okay, maybe we exaggerate a bit.)

The betting line (for fun only, of course) is constantly subjected to changing events. This first round of odds is sure to draw some contrary opinion from some of the candidates' camps, but we assure them and you it was compiled after intense analysis fueled only by Starbucks' strongest blend, and not accompanied by any alcoholic beverages or known hallucinogens. So without further ado or explanation--(Hey, we run this thing)--it's on to the very first betting line of Campaign 2010.

DEM GOVERNOR PRIMARY--Diane Denish is unopposed. The odds are 10 to one against anyone else being on the June ballot (not as a write-in, of course) to oppose her. Looks like Di has dodged the Hispanic male challenger bullet.

GOP GOVERNOR PRIMARY--Allen Weh goes off at 5/2 (a $2 wager pays $5), Susanna Martinez goes off at 4-1 ($2 wager pays $8), Doug Turner goes off at 6-1 ($2 wager pays $12) and Janice Arnold-Jones gets the long shot wager at 10-1 ($2 wager pays $20). Weh has money and is the only conservative Anglo male in the race. But attacks from the others should start soon. Nervousness over Weh's ability to win a general election also weigh on Weh.

GENERAL ELECTION GOVERNOR ODDS--Denish starts as a 9-to-5 favorite over any of the Republican Field. Those betting Denish wager $9 to win $5; those betting the GOP nominee wager $5 to win $9.

That's a good start for Denish, but she is no shoo-in yet. The R's have ammo--an unstable economic environment amid ever-present state scandals.

DEM LT. GOVERNOR PRIMARY--Colon goes off at 3-1 ($2 wager pays $6), Campos goes off at 7-2 ($2 wager pays $7), Rael goes off at 4-1 ($2 wager pays $8), Ortiz y Pino goes off at 8-1 ($2 wager pays $16), Linda Lopez goes off at 15-1 ($2 wager pays $30). The field (any other candidate on the ballot, not including write-ins) goes off at 20-1 ($2 wager pays $40). Santa Fe Sheriff Greg Solano goes off at 99-1 ($2 wager pays $198).

Solano announced Sunday he is getting out of the race. He said the media and bloggers placed too much emphasis on how much money he has raised, which in his case was very little. Come on, Greg. We don't believe money raised is the whole game, but it is a significant indicator of whether a campaign is gaining traction. But you aren't the first and won't be the last to bust media chops on your way out the door. Colon has raised the most money in the early going, giving him the pole position.

Remember, the odds are the current snapshot in time, not a prediction on how the race will eventually finish.

--John Sanchez goes off at 2-1 ($2 wager pays $4), Kent Cravens also goes off at 2-1, and Brian Moore goes off at 5-1 so a $2 wager would pay $10. Santa Fe's JR Damron is the long shot, going off at 20 to 1 odds. (ABQ nurse Bea Sheridan is no longer in the race.) Sanchez was the GOP Guv nominee in '02 and can self-finance a campaign. State Senator Cravens is popular in the important GOP ABQ NE Heights.


-Dem US Rep. Martin Heinrich goes off as the 7-5 favorite. Those wagering on the Congressman must bet $7 to win $5, while those wagering on Republican Jon Barela bet $5 to win $7. Neither Heinrich or Barela have opposition in their June primary contests. Barela has to raise a lot of money to make this competitive and he needs a mistake from the so-far mistake free Heinrich.

-Pick-Em. The race between Dem US Rep. Harry Teague and Republican Steve Pearce is an even money bet. A $2 wager wins $2, plus the original bet. If they put a gun to your head and forced you to pick, you might say the incumbent takes it, but that's based on past history, not current conditions.

NORTHERN SEAT--Dem US Rep. Ben Ray Lujan goes off as the prohibitive 1-9 favorite. Those betting on the Congressman lay $9 to win $1, while those wagering the GOP lay $1 to win $9. Lujan has to challenge himself. Will he put together a legendary career or a pedestrian one?


The guys and gals also wanted to add to the fun by offering what are known as "proposition bets" or side bets on some non-candidate election year action. Here are our favorites.

Odds are 2-1 it will be 50% or higher, even money for a bet that it will be in the 40's and the odds are 3 to 1 that it will be below 40%. (Bill was at 51% approval in the last ABQ Journal poll conducted in Sept.)

--The line setters are calling this an even money bet, which sounds surprising given all the controversy that has surrounded the Guv. But Obama did invite him to his first state dinner and that had the Gators dropping the odds on the Guv getting out of here.

NM GENERAL ELECTION VOTER TURNOUT--Odds are 2-1 if you bet that it will be 65 percent or more of registered voters and even money if between 55% and 65%. The odds go up to 3-1 if you wager that turnout falls below 50% of registered voters. (There are currently about 1,119,000 registered voters).

GOP GUV CANDIDATE SPENDS MORE THAN DENISH--You get 10 to 1 odds if you think the R's will muster enough cash to outspend Di. She's already raised $2 million.

What if the highly touted Teague-Pearce congressional race turns into a bust and one of the contenders wins by 10 points or more? Our odds makers will give you 10 to one odds if you bet that either Teague or Pearce will score 55% or more. Actually, given how often close elections turn lopsided, those odds seem among the best offered.

As we said, all these odds are a snapshot in time--how we think the races would go if the election were held right now. We'll post an updated version following the mid-March pre-primary conventions and compare them to this one.


We haven't set the line yet for the state land commission race. There are a number of R and Dem candidates, but the races for attorney general, state treasurer, state auditor and secretary of state start the year as a bust. There are still no announced GOP candidates for those offices. We think a couple will emerge, but the state party needs to get busy recruiting. Meanwhile, a reader offers some speculation on why the R's aren't getting these races off the ground:

Maybe the R's aren't getting the commitment from rich Texan Bob Perry in 2010 that they previously got. In 2008, Bob wrote campaign checks to the New Mexico Republican Party totaling $240,000. In the 2006 cycle, the Perry's dropped a total of $361,000 into the state. The contributions included $125,000 to Vickie
Perea, GOP secretary of state candidate $75,000 to Jim Bibb, Republican nominee for attorney general candidate and $70,000 to Demesia Padilla, the GOP treasurer candidates.

The state GOP appears to have made a decision to concentrate solely on the Guv's race when it comes to the statewide office. But by ignoring the lower ballot races they miss an opportunity to pump up GOP turnout. More important, it reveals that the party's efforts to rebuild after two devastating election cycles here has a very long way to go.


On the campaign trail in Roswell, Los Angeles Times politics correspondent Mark Barabak takes the early temperature on the hot congressional race between Dem Rep. Teague and GOP challenger Pearce:

Teague, motoring the long stretch between small towns, said he considered issues on the merits; he opposed the health care bill because he doubts it will extend affordability. He supported the "cap-and-trade" bill to fight global warming after winning concessions to help small refiners and electrical co-ops.

"Making everybody happy in a district this big and diverse probably isn't going to happen," Teague said.

He professes not to worry about the shifting tide, but others do: the Democratic congressional campaign arm has placed Teague in its incumbent-protection program...

And there will be more to come, much more, on what will be one of the marquee congressional races in 2010.

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