Last week, Daniel Patterson ditched his Democratic Party affiliation and registered as an independent, decrying partisan politics at the Capitol.
But at some point on Wednesday, Patterson re-registered as a Democrat, the Pima County Recorders Office confirmed. The Pima County Democratic chairman said Patterson told him he did it before he resigned, 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.
“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.”
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 has been unable to provide a conclusive answer about which party Patterson’s replacement will come from. A representative from the office said there should be more clarity at some point Thursday, when the voter affiliation files are updated with registrations that were filed the day before, and once officials can inspect the registration to determine what party Patterson was affiliated with when he left office.
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.