Patrick Henry College
PHC sophomore Ryan Rogge had hardly settled in for the Spring 2007 semester when he heard that Amber Smith, a PHC journalism student working in Baton Rouge, LA, was looking for him. Smith knew of an open position for campaign manager of a Virginia state senate race, and thought of Rogge.
Rogge, a public policy major, had never so much as carried a campaign sign at a rally when he made the call to Patricia Phillips, a Republican running for the 33rd District seat in the Virginia Senate. That evening the campaign called back requesting an interview.
“They asked about my previous campaign experience,” Rogge said. “I told them I didn’t have any, but I had strengths in organization, leadership and people skills. I was keenly aware of my lack of experience.”
Phillips herself called Rogge two hours later to offer him a job as her campaign manager. “I was utterly shocked,” he recalls. “She told me they would ‘love to have me on board and that what experience I did have, with my energy and excitement, would be a valuable asset.’ Then she asked how soon I could start.”
While many Patrick Henry students work on both local and national political campaigns, it is uncommon for students – much less a PHC sophomore – to hire on as the manager of a state senate race. Similarly, few pursue internships until their final two years, but Rogge, recognizing a rare opportunity, dropped all but two of his classes and set to work, familiarizing himself with the campaign.
“Our campaign kickoff event happened my fourth day on the job,” Rogge said, “so I was immediately thrust into scheduling, contacting supporters, editing speeches, and trying to get to know the people in the game.”
Mrs. Phillips, a Virginia native seeking the 33rd District seat on a platform of limiting government, was formerly the Precinct Operations Chairman for the Loudoun County Republican Committee and State Director for the Concerned Women for America of Virginia. The 33rd District covers approximately half of Loudoun County, where Patrick Henry College is located.
“Patricia is a strong Christian woman with similar values to the ones that I hold,” Rogge said, explaining his excitement for the race. “She worked in-depth to pass the VA marriage amendment, which carried a lot of weight with me in terms of her convictions as a believer and her stances as conservative.”
On her decision to hire Rogge, Phillips offered: “We decided to hire Ryan based on his straightforward, eager approach and obvious desire to get involved with the campaign. He also was in agreement with me personally on most, if not all, key issues. These traits, combined with the his background at Patrick Henry College, were big deciding factors in our decision—I hold Mike Farris in high regard, and am very aware of the reputation of PHC students as intelligent, informed, and energetic in their endeavors and involvement in local politics.”
Working toward the Republican primary in May, Rogge spends an average day juggling administrative tasks, including contacting and organizing volunteers, writing press materials, and managing the campaign headquarters.
“I’m excited about the in-depth knowledge of grassroots campaigning that I’ve been gaining, as well as the more realistic behind-the-scenes look at state and local politics,” Rogge said. “The campaign is proving to be not only a unique learning experience but as an introduction to the political community of Northern Virginia, which I hope to be an active part of in the future.”
For more information, visit www.phillipsforsenate.com.