Ban Pushes Saloon Owner into Politics


Delaware It took Delaware’s indoor smoking ban to get Frank Infante fired up about politics.

Rock the Vote at Murph’s Irish Pub.We had a very good turnout and registered new voters during the event. New venues will be announced in the future and may include the Big Kahuna and Hooters.


Frank Infante
Party: an independent
Age: 36
Hometown: Smyrna
Job: Owner, Bulldozers Saloon in Smyrna, President, Delaware United Smokers Association
Political Experience: Citizen lobbyist for several issues, including a partial repeal of the state’s indoor smoking ban and Senate Bill 2, which would allow the state to barbering and cosmetology board to license ex-felons.

It took Delaware’s indoor smoking ban to get Frank Infante fired up about politics.

Before Senate Bill 99 passed in spring 2002, Infante said he was more focused on running Bulldozers Saloon in Smyrna than politics.

But the more time he spent in Dover trying to change the law, Infante said, the more he got interested in politics and upset with politicians.

“There were things they could have done to help, if they were going to” ban smoking in bars, he said. “They could have offered tax breaks for a year or two to offset the damage to our businesses while we got used to this. But they didn’t care what was going to happen to us.”

While he lost the fight on House Bill 15, which would have amended the law to permit smoking in such places as taverns and taprooms, Infante says he’s pressing on with a legal challenge to the ban’s enforcement mechanism, which he claims is unconstitutional.

He also still has a life beyond the Capitol campus in Dover. Infante works the bar and organizes charity events, such as last weekend’s fund-raiser for the United Service Organizations.

“I think that’s something we got from our folks. They were always involved in charity,” Infante said. “We’ve always done things for charity at the bar because we think it’s important.”

But the gravelly voiced bar owner isn’t losing his political focus and says he’s not just a one-issue guy.

Since his introduction to Legislative Hall, Infante has taken to reading legislation and developing his awareness of other causes.

“I’m interested in changing laws that are hurting people,” he said.

Currently, Infante said he’s working to support Senate Bill 2, which would allow the state barbering and cosmetology board to license ex-felons.

“It only makes sense, and I think in the end we’re going to change it,” Infante said. “If they’ve done their time, a person needs a way to make an honest living, otherwise they’ll be right back in jail again. I mean, if we want to hand out life sentences, why don’t we just go up front and do it?”

The bill’s sponsor, Sen. Steve Amick, R-Newark, said he welcomes support on the issue. He said Infante has the potential to become an effective lobbyist.

“We are always looking to people for different perspectives and their experiences as we consider issues,” Amick said. “The question is over the long run whether he stays at it.”

Besides trying to sway politicians, Infante said he wants to try joining their ranks.

Although Infante won’t say what office he’s considering, he said voters should expect to see his name in 2004.

“I’m definitely going to be running next year. I’m spending enough time in Dover,” he said. “I might as well get paid to be there.”

Ban pushes saloon owner into politics

Originally written by: Patrick Jackson

Dover Bureau reporter

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