Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell acknowledged Thursday that he faces an uphill battle to privatize the retail side of Virginia's state-run liquor stores, as the political wrangling over one of the governor's pet issues continues.
“We’re going to make the case to legislators one-by-one about why this is good, why the numbers work, and why they ought to support it,” he said on his monthly call-in show on WRVA radio in Richmond. “I’ve had bills in the General Assembly that I’ve supported for years and years before they got passed. I’m in it for the long haul – it’s the right thing to do.”
The bill to privatize the retail side of the state's liquor monopoly is being carried in the Senate by Sens. Mark Obenshain, R-Harrisonburg, and John Watkins, R-Powhatan. Del. Bob Brink, D-Arlington, is scheduled to roll out a House version of the bill this afternoon.
McDonnell ran into trouble during his first push to privatize the state's liquor monopoly last year when Democrats — and some Republicans — voiced concern about a nearly $50 million hole the plan would blow in the state’s budget.
The new plan would privatize just retail liquor sales — the state would still control wholesale sales — and generate at least $200 million in up-front money while increasing annual state revenue by $13.1 million.