This Washington

Liquor Battle Already Approaching Total Cash Raised in Last Year's I-1100 Fight

By Josh Feit September 20, 2011

Wasn't it just last week when we reported that Costco made two more big contributions to the liquor privatization measure, I-1183, totaling $1.4 million and bringing their overall contribution to $3.9 million?

Well, campaign finance records show Costco just contributed another $1 million this month, which brings the retail giant's total cash and in-kind contributions to nearly $5 million, about 96 percent of the total $5.04 million the campaign has raised.

However, the anti-privatization effort remains out front of Costco in the cash race (as they were in our last report), hauling in another $1 million-plus in contributions, including another $1 million contribution from the Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America, $100,000 from Hood River Distillers Inc., and $50,000 from the Washington Public Employees Association UFCW Local 335, which represents state liquor warehouse workers. The 'No' campaign, calling themselves Protect Our Communities, has brought in $6.1 million.

With more than a month to go, the pro and con sides have now already raised $11.2 million between them. Last year's  battle over I-1100, Costco's previous liquor privatization measure drew nearly $15 million.

The measure takes the state out of the liquor store business and allows large scale retailers—at least 10,000 square feet—to sell booze in exchange for 17 percent of their annual liquor revenue.

Under the measure, the state would still regulate liquor sales.

As Lummy has reported, a potential loophole in the initiative might allow smaller stores to get into the business— which could undermine the appeal of this year's privatization attempt over last year's (also financed by Costco, by the way, to the tune of more than $3 million out of the $6 million raised).

Last year's I-1100 failed in part because voters were nervous about the prospect of small liquor stores turning up on every corner. This year proponents tweaked the measure, adding the square footage requirement to address that concern.
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