The state's newest lawmaker will be a political independent.

Secretary of State Ken Bennett said today that Daniel Patterson was an independent at 1:36 p.m. Wednesday, the official time he has resigned from the House.

Bennett acknowledged that Patterson, who had been a Democrat until reregistering earlier this month, did go online and switch back to his party on Wednesday. But Bennett said the records from the state Motor Vehicle Division, which operates the web site, peg that action at 2:01 p.m.

``The law is clear that in determining the method of filling the vacancy, the political party of the person who vacated the office is the deciding factor in determining whether party officials select the nominees or whether the Board of Supervisors selects a citizen panel to do so,'' Bennett wrote this morning to Ramon Valadez, who chairs the board. And in this case, Bennett said, the records reflect that Patterson was an independent when he quit.

The conclusion requires the supervisors to appoint a committee of people who live in Patterson's Tucson district who also are not registered with any political party. This panel -- the law does not specify how many -- will accept and review applications from other political independents in the district and then, within seven business days, forward the names of three nominees to the supervisors.

The supervisors then have five business days to select from that list.

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