With the November elections just two months away, opponents of Costco's liquor privatization initiative, I-1183, are ramping up their game with a new TV ad and an influx of campaign cash.

The Everett Herald's Petri Dish Blog reported yesterday afternoon that Protect Our Communities, the anti-1183 campaign, is airing their first television ad "in which law enforcement officers and firefighter paramedics warn that such an increase pose a great threat to public safety."

You can watch the ad here.  It's quite similar to last year's commercial, which featured firefighter and EMT Craig Soucy, who returns again this year. (And let's face it - it's a smart move. Who wouldn't listen to a firefighter? Especially compared to the awful ad put out by I-1100 last year, which featured a shopping cart giving the viewer a tour of Costco?)

Costco has poured $2.3 million into the initiative as of this week, and began running its own TV commercial today.

However, as the PI's Strange Bedfellows blog reported this morning, Protect Our Communities recently enjoyed a ginormous boost to campaign contributions:
The latest Public Disclosure filings show Issaquah-based Costco has contributed another $600,000 to support its Initiative 1183, the fall ballot measure that would privatize the spirits market. That’s almost chump change compared to what the trade group representing alcohol wholesalers has just given to the outfit opposed to I-1183 – Protect Our Communities. The Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America, Inc., have contributed $4.6 million to battle Costco recently, according to PDC filings. Right now Protect Our Communities has raised just over $5 million, while the Yes on 1183 Coalition has taken in a little more than $3 million. Of that, about $1.7 million has come from Costco. According to the PDC, the Yes on 1183 has about $1 million cash on hand, while Protect Our Communities has almost $5 million at its disposal.

Up until now, Protect Our Communities had been lagging behind Yes on 1183 in campaign contributions.

The silver lining for Costco? It can count on conservative think tank Washington Policy Center to have its back. Today, the WPC released a detailed analysis on its blog showing that under 1183, the density of liquor retailers in WA would still not be as high as it is in other Western states:
Out of 11 western states (excluding Nevada and New Mexico due to lack of comparable information), Washington currently has the second most restrictive liquor retail outlet density, with one store per 20,502 inhabitants. Utah has the most restrictive with one store per 28,494 inhabitants and Wyoming the least restrictive, with one store per 765 inhabitant.

As would be expected, the top five most restrictive liquor retail outlet densities are in strict control states. If Initiative 1183 is enacted, Washington would still rank among the top five state for restrictive access to liquor sales, moving from second to fifth most restrictive, and would be the most restrictive non-monopoly-control state in the West. The state liquor retail store density rankings do not change when adjusting for population numbers for those only 18 and over (though the density does increase).


The bottom line is that the number of retail liquor stores would increase in Washington under I-1183 but this would not result in the state becoming the wild, wild west of liquor retail stores or sales.

The WPC's analysis is a rebuttal to Protect Our Communities' claim that making liquor more widely available will hurt public safety---the same spin it used last year in bringing down I-1100. (Even with I-1183's requirement that potential liquor retailers must be 10,000 sq. ft and over, the anti-1183 camp still insists on a potential loophole that would undermine the provision.)
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