Posted: June 24, 2013; updated: June 26, 2013


By Celia Cohen
Grapevine Political Writer

The Delaware Republicans are broke! They are going to have to lay off the office staff! They are going to have to close their state headquarters in Wilmington!

What in the name of Chateau Country has made the party of the du Ponts upstate and the moneyed conservatives downstate go all Chicken Little about the finances?

Their acting chair has. Nelly Jordan.

The state Republicans are a wreck right now. Not only are the governor, the entire congressional delegation and all but one of the other statewide officials Democrats, not only is the General Assembly controlled by the Democrats, but the party is curdling with the distrust between the tea party Republicans and the regular Republicans.

As if nothing else could go wrong, it did. John Sigler, as steady a presence as the Republicans could have hoped for, had to quit last month as the state chair because of job-related concerns.

Enter Jordan. She was the vice chair, a Sussex Countian newly chosen at the state convention in April over Ruth Briggs King, another Sussex Countian who is a state representative, in an election that saw the tea partiers defeat the regulars.

With Sigler gone, Jordan assumed the chair until the party assembles on July 20 for another state convention to elect a new leader.

Since then, there has been a lot of grumbling in private that Jordan has not let her unfamiliarity with the workings of the party stop her from asserting itself, but now it is spilling into the open.

The reason is a letter Jordan sent late last week to the executive committee, the 23-member group that runs the party, with dire warnings about money.

Naturally, the letter was leaked immediately. Stylistically it was as shaky as she said the party was.

"What I am not sure you know, is that when John Sigler resigned his office there was not enough funds in the treasury to meet the financial obligations of our State Party for the month of June," Jordan wrote.

"Even though we are volunteers, when we accepted leadership positions in our party we accepted the responsibility to see that the welfare of our party was attended too.

"I am exploring options to raise funds to see that our employees will not have to be laid off and that the doors of our Party office will not have to be closed. I am asking you as members of the Executive Committee to do the same."

Although the party is not flush, it apparently is not broke, either. Knowledgeable Republicans say it is raising enough to operate, month by month.

Not that it has been easy recently for the party to coax in the contributions. Donors not surprisingly are holding back until they see who the new chair is, and then there is that fault line with party regulars unwilling to see their money go to tea party candidates and vice versa. 

In a brief telephone conversation, Jordan said Monday she was not available for an interview to discuss the letter until Tuesday, but she did not call then, either. If she thought she was writing the letter to expose the shortcomings of the party, it looks more like she did it to herself.

"Party elders are embarrassed and demoralized by the acting chairwoman's failure to work with the executive committee," said one party insider.

"It's a freaking nightmare," said another.

Charlie Copeland, who has volunteered to inherit this crisis in confidence, is doing what he can to restore calm. Copeland, formerly the state Senate's Republican minority leader, is currently the only candidate for state chair, although there is still plenty of time for political mischief.

"We ought to let people know where we stand," Copeland said. "Obviously an army marches on its stomach, and a party marches on its checking account. John Sigler did an excellent job getting us to this point."

In the meantime, the party could use not just money but a proofreader. When Jordan asked the executive committee members to come up with fund-raising ideas, she suggested they contact John Fluharty, the executive director, but she misspelled his name in his e-mail address.

It was not "Fluharty" but "Fuharty," if not foolhardy.