Washington voters are rejecting both liquor privatization initiatives; I-1100 and I-1105. Latest numbers coming in as of 4:26 p.m., Nov. 3 leave no doubt about the outcome. The state's current liquor control agency which holds a monopoly on the distribution of hard booze might seem a relic of the past, a time of Blue laws, G-Men and axe-wielding prohibitionists. And with a populist revolution that was birthed in this state and having swept across the country, it seemed a cinch that at least one of these measures would pass.
1100 is currently failing with 52 percent of votes counted going against. It's kid brother, 1105 is going down harder than a Central Washington University co-ed on a Four Loko bender, with a 63 percent "no" vote. The fate of the latter is not surprising, since the initiative basically replaced a governmental monopoly with a private monopoly run by distributors. There was a partially successful campaign to vote "yes" on 1100 and "no" on 1105.
The results of 1100, however, bear further scrutiny. It is still too early for last call on the measure and later batches of ballots counted could put it over the top.
When analyzing the race it's illustrative to see who came out for and against the measures, and more importantly, who remained silent. Not surprisingly, the Washington Democratic Party came out against both propositions by citing the usual: the government would lose tax revenues to evil, EVIL Wal-Mart. The Washington State Republican Party, however, was silent on the issue.
Speaking to WSRP Chairman Luke Esser, he said there was a debate within the party between free market conservatives versus those concerned about the spread of cheap liquor; i.e. religious conservatives. Chief among them was Cedar Park Church Pastor Joe Fuiten who has been at the pulpit railing against the evils of demon rum.
"Do we really want anyone, and PARTICULARLY KIDS, being able to drive their car to a gas station to buy drinks that can rapidly propel them to drunkenness?" asks Fuiten in one missive.
That religious conservatives came out against 1100 can be divined by county vote totals. Only eight counties, including King, Pierce and Snohomish are passing the initiative whereas most of Washington's Bible belt in Eastern and Southwest are voting against it.
One For The Road: In addition to the modern day temperance movement led by religious conservatives - lips that touch liquor shall never touch mine - one other wild-card could have factored into 1100's defeat.
Despite early polls showing a substantial lead, no one could have predicted the ramifications of a simple college party gone out of control. The controversy surrounding CWU and the drink Four Loko went viral nationwide. That attention focused on minors abusing alcohol surely influenced some voters.