This was not the way Ted Vogt imagined his final semester of law school. It began normally enough, with classes and a clerkship and the inevitable plans to take the Bar exam and line up employment after graduation.
Then things turned upside down. The monkey wrench came when Jonathan Paton announced in January he would leave his District 30 Senate seat to run for Congress. After he resigned in late February, the dominos began to fall.
One of the district’s representatives in the House, Frank Antenori, was selected to replace Paton. That created an opening in the House, for which Antenori recruited Vogt, 37, who also serves as the chairman of the district Republican Party. Vogt (pronounced vote) was appointed to the House on March 16 by the Pima County Board of Supervisors.
The timing probably couldn’t have been better for the third-year student at the University of Arizona’s James E. Rogers College of Law.
“We’re actually on spring break now,” Vogt said. “It’s not the traditional spring break, but talk about an exciting spring break!”
Vogt said he is determined to find a way to balance his newfound legislative responsibilities with the last few weeks of his law school studies, and has the blessing of the school’s administration to spend time at the Capitol in Phoenix and away from the school.
And with the legislative session likely to come to an early end, Vogt was confident he would still be able to graduate May 15.
It’s that sort of mindset and tenacity that supporters say made Vogt a great district chairman and will serve him well at the Capitol.
“He’s a hard-working guy and he delivers on what he says,” said Antenori.
As a district chairman, Antenori said, Vogt was the driving force behind a large influx of new precinct committeemen.
Vogt stepped into the role of district party leader quickly. He became a precinct committeeman in 2007, shortly after moving to Arizona after being released from active duty in the Air Force, where he served as an intelligence officer. In 2008, he was elected 1st vice chairman of the district, and he took over the top role in early 2009 when the previous chairman resigned.
Vogt describes his political philosophy as conservative, and says smaller governments are better governments.
“I believe people, when they have more control over their resources and decisions, make the right decisions for themselves,” he said.
His conservative credentials are impeccable, said Rep. David Gowan, a Sierra Vista Republican and Vogt’s new seatmate in the House.
“In my view, he’s a good Republican. He’ll vote the way the PCs and the district wants him to vote,” Gowan said. “I think he’ll vote the way Senator Antenori voted in that seat.”
But even though the conservative philosophy runs deep – Vogt said he is a lifelong Republican and comes from a family of lifelong Republicans – he won’t be one to dig his heels in on ideological grounds, said Paton.
“He seems like a reasonable person,” Paton said. “Conservative, but I don’t’ think he’s going to do anything crazy, which is good.
“I think he’s going to offer very able leadership at a critical time for the state.”
The Yale-educated Vogt said there’s no reason philosophical differences between Republicans and Democrats should prevent the two sides from being receptive of the other’s ideas.
“Not every great idea is going to come from one party,” he said.
That Vogt is willing to listen is a sign that he will do well at the Capitol and serve the district well, Paton said.
“The best quality in a freshman lawmaker is to be open like a sponge and be willing to listen to people and not act like you own the place,” he said. “That’s Vogt’s personality. If more people would be that way, we’d have a much better Legislature.”
City of residence: Tucson
Hometown: Salt Lake City, Utah
Education background: Bachelor’s degree in history from Yale University, 1995 Political background: Chairman of Legislative District 30 Republican Party