WILMINGTON, Del. (AP) — The chairman of the Delaware Republican Party abruptly resigned Wednesday, saying he needed to devote more time to his business.

In a hand-delivered letter to the state GOP’s executive committee, John Sigler said he was resigning effective immediately because of “newly emergent and totally unexpected circumstances” beyond his control.

Sigler said in the letter that because of the nature and origin of the circumstances, he could not elaborate or comment further, except to say that it’s not related to politics.

But he later told The Associated Press that he was resigning for business-related reasons.

“This is about my duties and responsibilities with regard to my employment,” said Sigler, who is general counsel for Psychotherapeutic Services, a Maryland-based firm that provides community-based mental health services. The company, based in Chestertown, operates programs in Maryland, Delaware, Florida and North Carolina.

Sigler’s resignation caught party leaders off-guard.

John Fluharty, executive director of the Delaware GOP, said in a statement that he was stunned and saddened by Sigler’s departure.

“As a party leader and as an individual he is one of the finest men I have ever met,” said Fluharty, adding that under Sigler’s leadership, the state party was able to retire its debt from the 2010 election and position itself to elect more GOP candidates to the legislature in 2014.

In the 2012 elections, Democrats maintained comfortable majorities in both chambers of the General Assembly, picking up one seat in the House while losing one to the Republicans in the Senate. Democrats also maintained the stranglehold they have enjoyed for years on statewide offices, with Republicans holding on only to the state auditor’s office.

House Minority Whip Deborah Hudson, R-Wilmington, said the GOP will need to hold a special convention within the next 60 days to choose Sigler’s replacement.

“I look forward to watching that process unfold and I’m eager to see who steps forward for consideration,” Hudson said.

(© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

Top Content On CBSPhilly

Watch & Listen LIVE