How we voted — Pike/Pine and Broadway at core of liquor privatization opposition

Given its indie leanings, you might not be shocked to learn that the cores of the Capitol Hill food and drink economy was dead set against I-1183, the Costco-backed liquor privatization initiative that was passed in this November’s election. In maps made available to us by our news partners at the Seattle Times, you can see the precinct results for the 1183 vote — green marks “for”, red marks “against.”


One of the most populous, thickest patches of red in the city — and the state could be found between 15th and Broadway and around the upper Pike/Pine neighborhood. Meanwhile, other areas in central Seattle like Pike/Pine arch enemy Broadmoor came out strongly in favor of the change.

You can see the full PDF version of the map here.

Meanwhile, two labor unions have filed suit seeking to block the initiative.

Less interesting is the regional battle that was Tim Eyman’s anti-tolling initiative. Green vs. red. East vs. west. Sister vs. sister. More details from the Seattle Times.

30 thoughts on “How we voted — Pike/Pine and Broadway at core of liquor privatization opposition

  1. It appears that the wealthier, more conservative areas of Seattle (Broadmoor, Laurelhurst, Madison Park)voted very heavily in favor of the initiative. This would make sense, because such voters are more likely to favor “privatization” of government services, regardless of whether this is a good idea or not.

    I think the approval of 1183 was unfortunate, in no small part because this was “bought” by Costco, and I am hoping the unions’ lawsuit will overturn the results. They seem to have a good constitutional case.

  2. I don’t understand the angst that this referendum was “bought” by Costco. Of course we should be buying our goods and services from private enterprises. Why should government employees be retained to sell us alcohol? We allow private businesses to sell us tobacco, marijuana, prescription drugs, and other substances. What is so special about alcohol?

    To those who complain that small businesses are shut out by I-1183, I offer two solutions:

    1. Shop at a former WSLCB store. It’ll be leased to a new owner who will run a small liquor store there.

    2. Propose a new initiative expanding the liquor store licensing to smaller businesses. Let the voters decide. Obviously Costco will lobby against it, but we’re all smart enough to separate corporate propaganda from our own opinions.

    Full disclosure: I am not employed by Costco or by any liquor retailer past, present, or near-future.

  3. For Costco and the rest of the state. They got us out of the probation era blue laws. We are now in the 21st century. State government should be governing and not trying to run a business. I think most of us are adult enough to handle our booze and we don’t have to be religated by a mommy state government.

  4. Godly matter, really? Wait until they charge more … private sector profits you know. And God knows too.

    I can live with either system, and yes, Cosco bought an election.

  5. You don’t understand the angst? It’s quite simple, really…Costco spent millions to pay signature-gatherers and then to be the almost-only funder of pre-election advertising. The angst is there because this is a totally anti-democratic process….getting a law passed for their own financial gain. It’s no different than shady, back-room deals or bribery.

  6. I’m surprised that with how many students and young people live on the Hill that they’d be in favor for higher prices and less selection on booze.

    Anyone who thinks having the state stores meant lower prices and better service has never purchased spirits in another state. Can’t wait until those dumps are gone, and we can have either real boutique liquor stores with great selection and service, or lower prices on the mass produced stuff at Safeway and QFC.

  7. Costco spent millions to raise awareness of their point of view. I saw plenty of ads from the “Think of the children!” crowd opposing I-1183. There was (and is) no credible argument in favor of government-run liquor stores. I don’t care if it’s Costco or a guy on a street corner shouting that out.

    I-1183 was a perfectly democratic initiative, voted on by the people who made up their mind based on their own preferences. That Costco funded signature-gatherers is immaterial.

  8. But the $12+ Million spent in the “anti” campaign by the liquor distributors wasn’t “buying” the election? Why is it only Costco who’s accused of buying the election? The money spent by the “anti” side was hardly raised grassroots.

  9. The old saying, “the proof of the pudding is in the eating” will come to pass. Remember when I-901 prohibited smoking in bars? Smokers, bar owners, and everyone else who was sure “the sky is falling!” predicted it would kill nightlife in bars and restaurants. All kinds of dire predictions and threats of “I’m only going to tribal casinos now, where I can still smoke!!!”. Well, here we are a few years later, and guess what?

    1. nightlife in bars goes on, and is as good as ever
    2. tribal casinos haven’t seen a huge increase in crowds of cancer-heads. (and I know 1st-hand, because I go to casinos).

    Let everyone whine and cry and make horrible predictions. Six months from now we’ll all see lower prices for liquor, like many other states with privatized liquor. Till then, everyone predicting gloom&doom is just blowing smoke.

  10. proves there’s a lot of stupid people in central Seattle who voted no, is all.

    While it’s true Costco spent the money to back the initiative to get the state OUT of a VERY unnecessary business it should not have been in in the first place, it’s also true that every dime from the “no” side was from the distributors who stand to lose their sweetheart monopolistic deals with the state.

    Do you enjoy having two or three businesses and a few overpaid state employees telling you what products you can and can’t buy in this state? We the people of Washington just voted that plan down.

  11. I have attended meetings with liquor distributors who will start selling product to retailers. The two largest distributors,, Youngs and Southern-Odom, are messaging prices will rise 20% next year, largely due to disincentives for distributors written into 1183 to fund the LCB for the first two years, and the fact that 1183 shutters a system in 6 months that has been in place for 78 years.

    Regardless of how you feel about privatization, the state was a large purchaser of booze which kept prices reasonable while supporting the state’s general fund. This situation will eventually correct itself, but we will pay for the privilege of privatization in the stores and bars for a few years.

  12. I find these results very surprising. Why do people think we should have to buy our liquor from the state government? WA is the first place I’ve ever lived that had that requirement and it’s always felt so antiquated. I don’t care that Costco spent and campaigned heavily for this. Our elected officials should have made this happen decades ago. I’m looking forward to being able to get my hooch at Safeway any time of the day and any day of the week.

  13. The areas in red have a lot of liquor stores. The convenience factor is less for the short term but once QFC, Safeway, and Red Apple start selling, people will adjust.

  14. It doesn’t surprise me they’d say that, but I’m not so convinced. I guess we’ll see. Remember that Costco and Safeway are huge sellers of liquor themselves in many other states, and they will probably contract directly with distillers in some cases. That may cut out enough costs to negate any temporary increases to the LCB. And those retailers will be free to cut their margins if they want to. The state required guaranteed markups.

    I don’t even care if liquor gets more expensive, temporarily or not. The State shouldn’t have been in the business anyway.

  15. The thing your complaining about isn’t corporate influence or lack of democracy–it’s too much democracy. The initiative process is fundamentally flawed because it favors reactionary thinking and the general public is even more easily manipulated by special interest groups than members of the legislature, and that’s saying something.

    I suspect the opposition on the hill is due to liquor distributors buying the Stranger staff a few drinks and all the hipster sheep voting the way their retarded shepherds tell them to. It worked for McGinn…

  16. The unions have a good constitutional case? Actually, they don’t have a case at all. Their suit is borderline frivolous litigation, and it will be tossed out of court quickly.

    The “single subject” rule prohibits combining wholly unrelated measures in a single bill/initiative. It doesn’t prohibit multiple forms of regulation in the same area – which in this case is liquor regulation.

    So – thankfully we’ve removed another layer of the nanny state. Maybe in a few years we’ll be able to buy liquor at a corner store, like any civilized society.

    Of course, god forbid we take it home in a plastic bag.

  17. Even if hitler himself personally funded this referendum, I would have still voted for it.

    Who cares who sponsored it? The point is, we voted to get the state off our backs and break their monopoly. We did it! Yay!

  18. It’s so amazing to me that there are so many communist-minded people in Seattle. It’s incredible that anyone would prefer the State grating itself a full monopoly on selling goods and the profits be funneled to bureaucrats. The major loser is the consumer who has to pay MUCH higher prices for alcohol than they do in states where the liquor business isn’t run by socialists. I’ve lived in California too, and the prices there are waaaaaaay cheaper than Washington. It’s a disgrace.

    But I guess I shouldn’t be so surprised. This is the city, after all, which erected a statue of a Soviety mass-murderer.

    Thankfully the hard core socialists are confined to a small island in Capitol Hill where they can get their fill of socialist propaganda (aka The Stranger, which argued that keeping the State monopoly was a GOOD thing!!)

  19. There are a few libertarian conservatives that still live out here trying to work or run a business and pay taxes. What I can’t get over are the accusation that “Costco bought the election”. They paid to advertise and educate the voting public regarding the argument in favor of their point of view. Were there any cases of voters being promised money or liquor in exchange for their vote? Has anyone received payment? If they had people standing on street corners with the clipboards saying “If you sign here you get a little airline bottle of booze”, it would have won by a landslide!! It also would have counted as buying an election. It didn’t happen that way.

  20. For all you mentioning how much cheaper prices are in California, do remember that Washington doesn’t have income tax, and that the lost revenue there is made up by taxing other goods, especially “luxury” goods like alcohol.

    Look up what the taxes are on liquor here vs Cali. Prices will probably go down a bit, but they’re not going to get cut in half from privatization.

  21. In today’s Seattle Times, it was announced that Costco will have liquor sales of at least $80 million a year in Washington, and probably much more. Do you pro-privatization advocates still think they spent $19 million on the election for the “principle”?

    I think the two lawsuits filed to nullify this result have a pretty good chance of being successful. We’ll see…

  22. It’s funny how people are jumping in to defend Costco on this one. I am personally very very far from being a libertarian of any stripe, but I do believe that liquor sales should not be a government monopoly, or a monopoly of any kind.

    The thing about this initiative, though, is it really does give the Costcos and the QFCs of the world an unfair advantage. Those free market libertarian types should detest that. (As usual the libertarians in this country are not actual libertarians, they are hypocrites and don’t care about truly free markets.) It’s very telling that under the new law a private business could not set up shop in a place of the same dimensions as the state-run stores without those properties being grandfathered in. If your goal is to increase competition and consumer choice that doesn’t make any sense to me. Costco can start selling booze but not the corner store?

    If there’s a silver lining it’s that the democratic process sometimes produces results in phases and tweaks… Though I am generally cynical about it, I suspect that somewhere down the line, someone could make an effort to remove the size restrictions.

  23. I had no problem with privatization; I’m strongly for that. I had big problems with the huge restrictions on being able to sell liquor being put on private businesses. I only hope that this move leads to, in future years, opening up of liquor licenses to businesses of all sizes.

  24. Is more educated than most voters, read the initiative, thought all the consequences through, like what happens to independent distillers, or what happens to our favorite niche brand that Costco/Safeway won’t carry but the state store does… I, like many of my neighbors, in the abstract favor privatization as its being done in California, New York and Illinois. But the way 1183 was worded, strongly pro-big-box store, strongly in favor of new taxes plus new liquor board enforcement.. We did not favor all these add-ons and said so.

    The rest of the state probably didn’t think it through as much, or didn’t care what happens to craft distilling or to restaurants. They probably did the “ugh, I hate the state” dance and voted yes. If the initiative had been a simple repeal that would have been enough. But it wasn’t. It was a slam dunk for Costco and a “well… bye!” to everyone else from mom and pop distillers to restaurants who now have to buy from new distributors to consumers who now get more taxes and won’t necessarily see lower prices for months, if ever.

    None of the “state bad private good” nitwits ever cared that this initiative was deeply flawed in several ways. We’re already seeing Craft Distilling being threatened, and we already are going to see a rocky transition period. Maybe years from now it’ll be OK, but I hope Woodinville Whiskey lasts long enough to see it. This initiative didn’t give a rats about them, thats for sure.

  25. If my regular scotch selection is now unavailable, if craft distillers like woodinville whiskey go out of business now, or if prices rise on whiskey because of 1183 passing, can I sue every idiot that fell for it for the difference to my liquor budget? Might be fun to try. I would have been for privatization had it not been so deeply flawed a law, so pro-costco/big box store and anti everyone else. I strongly suspect most voting for it only drink crown royal or monarch vodka.