By Tony Romeo

HARRISBURG, Pa. (CBS) – A Republican state senator from Bucks County who will have a key role in the liquor privatization debate is being targeted by a conservative group that is running cable TV ads in his home district.

Chuck McIlhinney is chairman of a Senate committee which will hold a hearing next week on the liquor bill passed by the House last month. Leo Knepper of the Citizens Alliance of Pennsylvania claims McIlhinney has in the past voted in favor of big government interests.

“We are encouraging his constituents to contact him and tell the senator to look out for their interests.”

The group characterizes McIlhinney as a “staunch opponent” of privatization. The senator, who claims CAP is doing the bidding of corporate interests, says his position on shutting down state stores is “ambivalent”.

“They would fall away, and we would close the state stores, as we increase the retail opportunities in the private sector.”

But like the Republican leader of the Senate, McIlhinney says he’s not philosophically committed to closing state stores. His primary concern is improving convenience, selection and choice in the sale of wine and spirits.

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