Posted: Aug. 15, 2012


By Celia Cohen
Grapevine Political Writer

There is nothing funny about what is going to be told here. Nothing funny.

So no laughing, no giggling and especially no snickering. What happened to the Delaware Republican Party is serious stuff.

The Republicans' executive committee, which oversees the party, had to hold an emergency conference call Monday evening to resolve how they were going to get some financial reports filed, because the treasurer could not sign them.

The treasurer had become a Democrat.

Do not even think about smiling.

It was bad enough before. Not only has the party been in a dreadful skid, it has had to put up with all those Christine O'Donnell witch jokes, and now this.

The situation with the financial reports was handled briskly, with the executive director installed as the temporary treasurer, but still, it brings to mind Casey Stengel, the manager of the 1962 New York Mets, as he surveyed one of the worst baseball clubs ever and wondered, "Can't anybody here play this game?"

Can't anybody here run this party?

The treasurer was Beth Miller, a lawyer from Dover. She got into politics in 2010 by running against Brad Bennett, the Democratic state representative who skated through that election after his first drunken driving arrest but gave way to his wife's candidacy this year after his second.

Weirdly enough, Miller had registration issues back then. She was an independent when the Republicans recruited her and triumphantly sent out a press release when she officially became a Republican, certain she had found her political home.

Do not even think about smiling.

Miller had a decent enough showing that the Democrats, who control the state House of Representatives, fixed it so she could not run again in the 32nd Representative District by moving her into the 31st through the once-a-decade redistricting. Meanwhile, the Republicans rewarded her by electing her to a two-year term as the party treasurer at their state convention last year.

Miller was a Republican until May 23, two days before the blackout on changing parties until after the Sept. 11 primary, when she registered as a Democrat.

It is something of a mystery why Miller did it. Like that should be a surprise?

Miller did not want to explain, other than to say she still means to be a Republican. "It happened," she said.

Nor does John Sigler, the Republican state chair, regard Miller as a turncoat. He thinks she switched to help out the Republicans by using her vote to meddle in the four-way Democratic primary for insurance commissioner.

Maybe, but not exactly. "I had considered it, but that isn't the primary reason, to be quite honest. It was kind of something that popped up," Miller said.

Whatever, the Republicans were flabbergasted when the word circulated through party circles their treasurer was now a Democrat. It was astounding, like kissing a toad and getting a prince, except this was like kissing the prince and getting the toad.

Miller has filed the paperwork to become a Republican again, but it cannot become official until the registration blackout ends on Sept 12. When it does, Sigler intends to ask the Republican executive committee to reinstate Miller to her party post, although there are no guarantees.

In the meantime, Miller is out as the treasurer, because Republican Party officers are supposed to be Republican Party members. Those are the party rules, and the Republicans are sticking to them.

"How can anybody be so dumb to think it doesn't matter?" one Republican huffed.

Otherwise, there could just be interleague trading. The Republicans could swap with the Democrats for a party treasurer and a candidate to be named later. Seriously, do not even think about smiling.