Last week, Daniel Patterson ditched his Democratic Party affiliation and registered as an independent, decrying partisan politics at the Capitol.
But shortly before he resigned today, Patterson re-registered as a Democrat, according to the Pima County Democratic chairman, a move that thrusts the appointment process for Patterson’s former legislative seat into uncharted territory.
Patterson made the voter-registration change at the urging of Democratic leaders in southern Arizona, said Pima County Democratic Chairman Jeff Rogers.
The move means that Patterson could be replaced in the Legislature by a Democrat, not an independent, as Arizona law would require if Patterson quit as an independent.
But the Secretary of State’s office was unable to provide a conclusive answer about where Patterson’s replacement would come from. A representative from the office said there should be more clarity Thursday morning, when the voter affiliation files are updated with registrations that were filed today.
Patterson could not be reached to confirm his re-re-registration. But Rogers, who supported Patterson’s right to a full ethics hearing even after the lawmaker left the Democratic Party, said Patterson told him today that he had re-registered as a Democrat again before his resignation.
“Some of us encouraged him to do that,” Rogers said. “I’m hopeful that it went smoothly online, and that it will continue to be a Democratic seat.”
If it’s determined that Patterson vacated his seat as a Democrat, the 32 precinct committee members in Legislative District 29 would get to select a list of three potential Democratic replacements. One of them would be selected from the list by the Pima County Board of Supervisors.
If it’s determined that Patterson left as an independent, a three-person panel of registered independents would have to be appointed by the Pima County Board of Supervisors. That panel would choose three possible independent replacements, and the Board of Supervisors would select from that list.
Rogers said Democrats have already come “out of the woodwork” to offer their names for consideration.
The replacement would need to come from the current LD29. So far, Rogers said the only Democrat in the current LD29 that’s contacted him asking to be considered is Sal Baldenegro. But Rogers said he also heard that former Democratic House member Tom Prezelski might also be interested.