BROOKFIELD, Conn. (WTNH)– A Connecticut woman is locked in to a major legal and political battle over who can be a member of a political party in this state and whether you can vote for the party of your choice. It appears to have major Constitutional Questions and is now moving to the state’s highest court as well as the federal courts. This is happening in a small town but has state-wide implications.
Jane Miller and her husband Larry run a successful business out of their home and for four years she served on her local school board, elected as a Republican. Two years ago local Republicans decided not to endorse her for another
term. Town Democrats said; ‘run with us.’ She re-registered as an ‘unaffiliated’ voter and did. She lost. She re-registered as a Republican because she wants to vote in the Connecticut Republican Presidential Primary in April but the local Republican ‘Registrar of Voters’ has kicked her out of the party making her remain an ‘unaffiliated.’ voter. “Shocked and stunned that it could be done to anyone, not only in Connecticut but in the United States,” said Jane in a News 8 interview.
The Registrar is using a law passed in 1909 that allows the expulsion from a political party for being disloyal. A Superior Court judge has upheld the Registrar who declined comment because of the litigation. Jane is being represented by former Democratic Secretary of the State, Atty. Susan Bysiewicz who says, “This ‘9-60’ law that’s been on the books for years, is very clearly unconstitutional.”
The legal challenge is being quickly bumped up to the State Supreme Court. And this week, the current Secretary of the State asked the General Assembly to repeal the law. But the Republican Party establishment is strongly supporting the action saying that Miller is trying to play in both parties at the same time and could jeopardize Republican Party election strategy in the town. “She has run for office as a Democrat, she and her husband are the second biggest donors to Brookfield Democrats,” says Brookfield Republican Town Chairman Matt Grimes. Connecticut State Republican Party Chairman J.R. Romano adding, “It’s like being the GM for the ‘Yankees’ and the head of ‘scouting’ for the ‘Red Sox.”
Miller says “It’s my intent that this doesn’t happen to anyone else in this state.” Because 2 men did the same thing in her town and were allowed to re-register as Republicans Jane is also involved in a case before the federal court.Back at Town Hall in Brookfield, First Selectman Steve Dunn said today that the town has been hit with a $21,000 legal bill for defending the Republican Registrar in court. The First Selectman who is a Democrat said, “I’m not paying it.”
The State Republican Party Chairman notes that Lowell Weicker was kicked out of the Republican Party by the Registrar in Greenwich in 1990 when he ran as an Independent for Governor.
Some Democrats in New Haven wanted to kick Joe Lieberman out of the party when he was traveling around the country campaigning for Republican John McCain for President in 2008 but the New Haven Registrar refused.