House Democratic leadership won’t support ABC privatization
He is a relatively new member of the Virginia House Minority Leadership, but Del. Joe Morrissey (D-Henrico) took the opportunity to speak out on behalf of his colleagues tonight on a key issue. Morrissey revealed that he and two other key House Democrats will not support Governor Bob McDonnell‘s plan to privatize the Commonwealth’s ABC stores.
Morrissey declared their stance at a fundraiser tonight at the Boat House at Rockkets’ Landing. Just how many House Democrats he was speaking on behalf of is a little murky, but one thing is clear: Morrissey (the current Democratic House Whip), House Minority Leader Ward Armstrong and Democratic House Caucus Leader Ken Plum are all opposed to the McDonnell plan.
Armstrong’s Chief of Staff Claire Wilker confirmed to me tonight that Armstrong and Plum are against the ABC plan in its current form, but beyond that stance she said, Morrissey was speaking for himself.
“It’s a solution that the Governor is looking for to find a problem,” said Morrissey. The Henrico Democrat said that the McDonnell plan forgoes a guaranteed revenue stream in the billions of dollars for one that promises hundreds of millions of dollars, but with no guarantees. According to Morrissey, that is not enough to convince his House colleagues to buy into the plan.
“I don’t think there has been a tremendous amount of thought put into why this benefits the Commonwealth,” he said. “I have heard from several Republicans whispering, ‘why are we doing this?”
But opposition from Democrats in the House is not a great threat to the McDonnell administration because with only 39 members, the minority party would need several Republicans to break rank with their Governor to get the job done.
Morrissey hopes that the Governor will take their unhappiness with the plan and think twice about the way it is presented to the public.
“I hope they see, there is some discord to this, let’s put it to a referendum,” said Morrissey. “Let’s let the voters decide, that would be a perfect world.”
The McDonnell administration doesn’t seem all that concerned about opposition from the minority members of the House.
“Certain House Democrats are doing a great job of demonstrating why they are in the minority,” said Tucker Martin, Communications Director to Governor McDonnell. “They are saying no to $500 million for roads, without a tax increase, while not advancing any transportation proposals of their own. That’s embarrassing.”
My entire, uncut interview Del. Joe Morrissey on the ABC privatization issue, including his personal plan to fix the transportation problem, can be seen below: