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Virginia Libertarian Takes Aim At State-Owned Liquor Stores

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In Virginia, the sale of liquor is run by the government.
In Virginia, the sale of liquor is run by the government.

In Virginia, the Libertarian candidate for governor is calling for major changes to how the commonwealth regulates alcohol.

Back in April, a University of Virginia student spent a night in jail after state agents with the Virginia Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control arrested her after mistaking a case of sparkling water for beer. Now Robert Sarvis, the Libertarian candidate for governor, is calling for the state agency's law-enforcement powers to be shifted to local jurisdictions.

"When you get a regulatory agency that also has its own enforcement arm, you get a very sort of narrow-minded mentality," he says.

Sarvis is also calling for the state-owned monopoly of liquor sales to end, one of the central campaign promises of Republican Governor Bob McDonnell. He was unable to persuade Democrats skeptical of losing revenue and Republicans wary of increasing availability of alcohol. Sarvis thinks he might have better luck.

"I think a third-party governor actually has more opportunity to get certain types of things done," he says.

University of Virginia Center for Politics analyst Geoff Skelley says Sarvis is unlikely to win, but he has an opportunity to contribute to the debate.

"If the argument is made strongly by Sarvis, you know, maybe could actually pay attention to it and be, like, yeah, that's an interesting idea," he says.

So far, most of the discussion in the race for governor has been about scandals surrounding Republican Ken Cuccinelli and Democrat Terry McAuliffe. Meanwhile, Sarvis has been trying to gain attention for his Libertarian campaign.


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