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Would-be congressman Daniel Webster tried to ban happy hour

By Sahil Kapur
Tuesday, October 19, 2010 15:34 EDT
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Daniel Webster, the Republican challenger to Rep. Alan Grayson (D-FL), introduced legislation in 1991 that would have banned bars across Florida from holding happy hours.

Webster, who served in the Florida legislature between 1980 and 2008, filed a bill in January 1991 that sought to prohibit selling alcohol on discount and ban “drinking games” and “contests” at bars. The measure was highlighted by Grayson’s campaign on an affiliated Web site, RejectWebster.com.

Fortunately for the Florida folks who enjoy a drink after work every now and then, the legislation died in committee, but Grayson’s campaign is seizing upon it. According to an official summary, the measure:

“prohibits selling of such [alcoholic] beverage at price other than at licensee’s initial price charged that week & prohibits certain free dispensing of alcoholic beverages for consumption on licensee’s premises; prohibits licensees from conducting or authorizing certain drinking games or contests on premises, etc.”

“What is it about Daniel Webster that makes him want to micromanage the lives of others through such bizarre legislation?” said Sam Drzymala, a spokesman for Grayson’s campaign. “Why can’t Daniel Webster mind his own business?”

Grayson himself offered a characteristically colorful response. “Big-Government Daniel Webster wants to keep government out of your life, unless you are working, eating, drinking, resting or sleeping,” the congressman said.

The liberal firebrand has a knack for infuriating conservatives, and rose to prominence last year after claiming the Republican heath care plan essentially meant, “don’t get sick,” and if you do, “die quickly.” He is the GOP’s overriding Democratic target to unseat in the House in next month’s election.

Grayson has marshaled his large war chest to run scathing ads portraying Webster as an extremist, highlighting his hard-line views on women’s issues. Webster’s GOP allies have likewise spent heavily on ads that attack the progressive Democrat in fierce terms.

Webster’s campaign office did not respond to a request for comment.

Below are the details of the bill, as reported by the Florida legislature:

 
 
 
 
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