Virginia watches as Washington state voters reject liquor privatization
Among all the election returns Tuesday that must have been heartening to Gov. Bob McDonnell (R), there was one election clear across the country that might have hurt just a touch.
Voters in Washington State appear to have rejected a pair of ballot initiatives that would have privatized the state's sale of liquor. Each of the measures would have ended the state's monopoly on the sale of hard liquor--which McDonnell wants to do in Virginia.
One measure, pushed by a major campaign by Costco, would have allowed major retailers to stock liquor on their shelves. The other would have eliminated state taxes on liquor while requiring retailers to buy liquor from distributors--maintaining a traditional three-tier system for alcohol distribution.
According to the Washington State Board of Elections, both measures went down to defeat--with 51.94 percent and 63.25 percent of Washington voters saying "no" to each, respectively.
Washington residents may have been convinced by a massive vote "no" campaign sponsored by beer wholesalers, who were uninterested in seeing liquor come to stores that now sell only beer and wine. They may have been concerned by figures showing the state would lose money after privatization. They may just have been confused by the two competing ballot initiatives.
Regardless, the vote may be a cause of concern for McDonnell, who has maintained that Virginia residents support privatization, even if their state legislators are wary. McDonnell has promised to introduce legislation to end Virginia's 76-year monopoly on the sale of hard liquor on the first day of the 2011 legislation session.
| November 3, 2010; 5:20 PM ET
Categories: Liquor privatization, Robert F. McDonnell, Rosalind Helderman
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