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    Obama Wins 2008 Presidential Election

    A close popular vote brings a democrat-controlled White House and Senate, and potentially, an ear in Washington for the convenience store industry on top issues including credit card interchange fees.

    WASHINGTON -- In a move that confirmed major polls' predictions, it was a victory for Sen. Barack Obama in the swing states of Ohio and Florida, and a hard-fought win in Virginia over Sen. John McCain that cinched the 2008 U.S. presidential election, marking the first time an African American has been elected to the post.

    While the popular vote between the candidates was close, it was a wide margin in electoral votes that secured Obama's win.

    With four years under an Obama administration, along with a democratic Congress, convenience store retailers can expect several changes in the convenience and petroleum retailing business, according to industry experts who spoke to CSNews Online prior to the election.

    On certain issues, Obama and Congressional Democrats may have a more sympathetic ear to the industry, said John Eichberger, vice president, government affairs for NACS: the Association of Convenience and Petroleum Retailing.

    The convenience store industry could see relief under an Obama administration when it comes to credit card interchange fees and the passage of the Credit Card Fair Fee Act.

    "With Democrats controlling the House and Senate next year, they tend to be more supportive of small business vs. big business," Dan Gillian, president of the Petroleum Marketers Association of America, told CSNews. "And I honestly think John McCain or Barack Obama will sign [the Fair Fee Act into law]. I will be very disappointed if it doesn't get done."

    However, on other issues, such as the environment, neither candidate would be beneficial for the petroleum and convenience store industry, according to Eichberger.

    "Obama will be more for alternative fuels," he said. "McCain is not so gung-ho on ethanol."

    David McCorkle, president of the Pennsylvania Food Merchants Association and Pennsylvania Convenience Store Council, held a similar opinion, saying, "Obama's support for cellulosic ethanol could be good, if a cost effective production method can be developed."

    Another significant issue the convenience store industry may face under the new administration is Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulation of tobacco products. Though Congressional Democrats put the bill on hold until after the election, due to veto threats by President George W. Bush, president-elect Obama supports the legislation.

    A potential federal health insurance program may also come to fruition as part of the Obama administration, according to Eichberger. In addition, president-elect Obama and a democratic congress could institute changes to the federal minimum wage, as well as push for a stronger Federal Family Leave Act, healthcare reform and workforce development, said McCorkle.

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