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Washington Ballot Referendum Divides McKenna, Inslee Washington Ballot Referendum Divides McKenna, Inslee

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Politics

Washington Ballot Referendum Divides McKenna, Inslee

November 7, 2011

Washington state voters will decide whether they'd like to see liquor sales privatized and state liquor stores shuttered when they vote on Initiative 1183. The measure has also become an issue in the governor's race, splitting the two frontrunners.

Republican Attorney General Rob McKenna came out for the measure on Friday, saying "the state does not need to be in the business of hard liquor sales."

Opponents have sought to highlight social problems in other states caused by privatized sales, but McKenna told the Seattle Post-Intelligencer that he couldn't find the problems being underscored by the opposition.

Democratic Rep. Jay Inslee is against passage of I-1183, saying he can't back an expansion of liquor availability and citing the threat of drunk drivers.

Passage of I-1183 -- known more commonly as "the Costco Initiative," due to the amount of money the company has spent pushing to pass the measure, hoping to sell liquor if/when the measure is approved -- led 50.3 percent to 42.8 percent in a recent Washington Poll.

As Reid Wilson pointed out (subscriber) last month, the initiative has prompted a unique political role reversal, with Costco, whose head is a big Democratic donor, hiring a GOP consulting firm and the liquor lobby casting Costco as an evil corporation.

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