While House Democrats were calling for now-former state Representative Daniel Patterson to resign or be expelled, Patterson changed his party affiliation to Independent, citing his disapproval of "party politics."
When Patterson resigned from the House yesterday, he changed his party affiliation back to Democrat, which would let Democratic party officials would select nominees to fill his seat.
To be precise, according to Secretary of State Ken Bennett, Patterson changed his affiliation back to Democrat after he resigned.
"In this case, 'immediately before' the vacancy, Mr. Patterson remained a voter of no party preference," Bennett writes to Pima County Supervisor Ramon Valadez. "Therefore ... the Board must appoint a citizen committee to suggest three nominees of no party preference from which the Board will appoint one."
According to Bennett, Patterson was exactly 25 minutes late in switching his party affiliation.
"The official Journal of the House reflects that the Speaker received the resignation and read it across the desk at 1:36 p.m.," Bennett writes. "It was after the resignation was accepted by the Speaker yesterday that Mr. Patterson again registered, this time returning his party preference to Democrat. Our records show the transaction occurred at 2:01 p.m."
Patterson, explaining his views on Twitter -- as usual -- says his intent, and the intent of his resignation letter, was to resign at the end of the day yesterday.
"This may not have been clear to [House Speaker Andy] Tobin," he says.
In Patterson's resignation letter, he said, "With this letter, I reluctantly resign under strong protest."
In a copy of that resignation attached to Bennett's letter, the word "now" was apparently penned in by Patterson, so the letter reads, "With this letter, I reluctantly resign now under strong protest."
Apparently neither "I reluctantly resign" nor "I reluctantly resign now" imply the end of the day to Bennett.
Still, Bennett says he's just following statute, and "would welcome a judicial resolution to this matter should one arise."
Unless that happens, it's going to be someone without a party preference who will be appointed to fill the seat.