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Tom Ridge

In office
January 24, 2003 – February 1, 2005
President George W. Bush
Succeeded by Michael Chertoff

In office
January 17, 1995 – October 5, 2001
Lieutenant Mark S. Schweiker
Preceded by Bob Casey
Succeeded by Mark S. Schweiker

Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Pennsylvania's 21st district
In office
January 3, 1983 – January 3, 1995
Preceded by Don Bailey
Succeeded by Phil English

Born August 26, 1945 (1945-08-26) (age 64)
Munhall, Pennsylvania, United States
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Michele Ridge
Children Lesley and Tommy
Alma mater Harvard College
Pennsylvania State University Dickinson School of Law
Religion Roman Catholic
Military service
Service/branch United States Army
Rank staff sergeant
Battles/wars Vietnam War
Awards Bronze Star
National Defense Service Medal
Vietnam Service Medal
Vietnam Campaign Medal
Vietnam Gallantry Cross
Combat Infantryman Badge

Thomas Joseph Ridge (born August 26, 1945) is an American politician who served as a member of the United States House of Representatives (1983–1995), the 43rd Governor of Pennsylvania (1995–2001), Assistant to the President for Homeland Security (2001–2003), and the first United States Secretary of Homeland Security (2003–2005). Since re-entering the private sector, Ridge has served on the boards of The Home Depot and The Hershey Company and as a senior advisor to Deloitte & Touche, and TechRadium. Ridge is also the founder and CEO of Ridge Global, LLC, a Washington, D.C. based security consulting firm. Ridge spent time campaigning with fellow Republican, Senator John McCain during his 2008 bid for the presidency and was believed by some to have been in the short list of potential running mates.[1][2] Ridge wrote in his memoir that then-Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and then-Attorney General John Ashcroft pressured him to raise the terror alert level, running up to the 2004 elections, based upon information they had received.[3]


Early life

Ridge was born in Munhall, Pennsylvania, in Pittsburgh's Steel Valley, the oldest of three children. His parents were Laura (née Sudimack) and Thomas Regis Ridge, who was a traveling salesman and Navy veteran. Ridge's maternal grandparents were Carpatho-Russian immigrants[4] from the former Czechoslovakia and his paternal great-grandparents emigrated from Great Britain.[5] Ridge was raised in veterans' public housing in Erie, Pennsylvania. He was educated at St. Andrews Elementary School and Cathedral Preparatory School and did well both academically and in sports. He earned a scholarship to Harvard College, where he paid his way through with construction work, played intramural baseball and football,[6] and graduated with honors in 1967.

After his first year at the Dickinson School of Law, he was drafted into the United States Army, where he served as an infantry staff sergeant during the Vietnam War. He earned the Bronze Star, National Defense Service Medal, Vietnam Service Medal, Vietnam Campaign Medal, Vietnam Gallantry Cross Unit Citation with Palm, and the Combat Infantryman Badge. Later he was offered a position as an officer but turned it down when he learned that it would require an extra year of service.

A ruptured appendix cut short his tour and he returned home in 1970; service also aggravated a childhood ear infection. Since then Ridge has had a hearing aid in his left ear.

After returning to Pennsylvania, he completed his Juris Doctor (J.D.) degree at the Dickinson School of Law, graduating in 1972, and entered private practice.

Public service in Pennsylvania

He became Assistant District Attorney in Erie County, Pennsylvania in 1980 and prosecuted 86 cases in two years. In 1982 he successfully ran for a seat in Congress from northwestern Pennsylvania, and was re-elected six times. Ridge was notable as the first enlisted Vietnam combat veteran elected to the U.S. House. As of 2009, Ridge has never lost an election for public office.

Then Congressman Ridge during the 104th Congress

In 1994, despite being little-known outside of northwest Pennsylvania, Ridge ran for governor of Pennsylvania, winning the election as a pro-choice Republican. He was reelected in 1998 with 57 percent of the vote in a four-way race. Ridge's share of the vote was the highest for a Republican governor in Pennsylvania (where Democrats outnumber Republicans by almost 500,000) in more than half a century.[7] Ridge served as Governor until his resignation to become the Director of Homeland Security in 2001.

As governor, he promoted "law and order" policies, supporting a three-strikes law and a faster death penalty process. A death penalty supporter,[8] Ridge signed more than 224 execution warrants[9] – five times the number signed over a 25-year period by the two previous governors – but only three voluntary executions were carried out. On social issues, he opposed gay marriage, and, in spite of being a Roman Catholic, is pro-choice on abortion issues.

The Governor nominated Dr. Peter J. Jannetta to be his secretary of health. Dr. Jannetta was known to the governor to have testified perjuriously in Court, the Pennsylvania Superior Court stating, "We have little difficulty in concluding that Dr. Jannetta's testimony at deposition was different than, or inconsistent with, the testimony at trial." Levy v Jannetta, CCP Allegheny County, GD 81-7689; appeal -J. A370017/92 Levy v Jannetta et al., No. 00150 Pittsburgh, 1992. settled, 1995." Dr. Jannetta served as Governor Ridge's health secretary for 6 months.

Over Ridge's tenure, the Commonwealth's budget grew by two to three percent per fiscal year and combined tax reductions totaled over $2 billion. Ridge created and grew a "Rainy Day" Fund balance to over $1 billion to be utilized during an economic downturn or recession.

Ridge pushed for legislation permitting competition among electric utilities and enhanced federal and state support for the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP). He also separated the Commonwealth's environmental regulatory and conservation programs into two new agencies; the Department of Environmental Protection and the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.

Ridge proposed the creation of public charter schools in Pennsylvania and in establishing alternate schools for disruptive students. He launched new academic standards that established academic expectations for what students were expected to know in different grades. Ridge also proposed a school choice demonstration program.

Ridge oversaw a number of e-government projects including renewing drivers' licenses and vehicle registrations to viewing historical documents and library catalogs. The Commonwealth's portal won several national awards. One of the nation's first electronic grant systems was put into place at the Pennsylvania Department of Education. Ridge also created the Link-to-Learn initiative to increase the effective use of technology in public schools and universities.

In 2001, he was named runner up "Politician of the Year" by PoliticsPA.[10] In a 2002 PoliticsPA Feature story designating politicians with yearbook superlatives, he was named the "Most Popular."[11]

2000 U.S. Presidential election

Ridge served as a close advisor to GOP presidential nominee George W. Bush, a close friend from their simultaneous tenures as governors, during the 2000 presidential campaign. In return, Bush named Ridge to his short list for possible running mates, along with New York Governor George Pataki, Michigan Governor John Engler, Oklahoma Governor Frank Keating, former Missouri Senator John Danforth, and former American Red Cross President Elizabeth Dole.[12]

However, Bush selected the man who was in charge of leading his search for the vice presidential nominee, former Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney, to be his running mate.

Ridge was also reportedly Colin Powell's choice to be Secretary of Defense in Bush's new cabinet. With his reputation as a former Congressman and a strong administrator as governor, in addition to his friendship with Bush and Powell, he was seen as a frontrunner for the post. But after much decrying by conservatives over his lack of defense experience, particularly by Republican primary candidate Gary Bauer, who decried Ridge as a "peacenik-type of congressman during the Reagan years" and Robert Novak who wrote of Ridge's lack of defense experience and his opposition to the Strategic Defense Initiative. There was also rumored to be a lot of animosity regarding the nomination between Powell and Dick Cheney regarding Ridge. With all of this Ridge promptly took his name out of the running and Donald Rumsfeld was eventually named as defense secretary.

Homeland Security Advisor and Secretary

Tom Ridge and John Ashcroft (May 11, 2004, Washington, D.C.)

Following the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, U.S. President George W. Bush created the Office of Homeland Security within the White House, and named Ridge to head it. The charge to the nation's new director of homeland security was to develop and coordinate a comprehensive national strategy to strengthen the United States against terrorist threats or attacks. In the words of President George W. Bush, he had the strength, experience, personal commitment and authority to accomplish this critical mission. Ridge formally resigned as Pennsylvania's governor on October 5, 2001.

In January 2003 and after the passage of the Homeland Security Act of 2002, the Office of Homeland Security split into a Cabinet-level Department, the Department of Homeland Security, and the White House Homeland Security Advisory Council. Ridge left the White House and became the first Secretary of Homeland Security. The Department's Mission "is to (A) prevent terrorist attacks within the United States; (B) reduce the vulnerability of the United States to terrorism; and (C) minimize the damage, and assist in the recovery, from terrorist attacks that do occur within the United States" (From H.R. 5005-8 the Homeland Security Act of 2002). The newly created Department was the most comprehensive reorganization of the Federal government since the National Security Act of 1947. The Department of Homeland Security consolidates 22 agencies and 180,000 employees, unifying once-fragmented Federal functions in a single agency dedicated to protecting America from terrorism. Ridge worked with the employees from combined agencies to strengthen borders, provide for intelligence analysis and infrastructure protection, improve the use of science and technology to counter weapons of mass destruction, and to create a comprehensive response and recovery division.[13][14][15][16][17][18]

In January 2004, Ridge was named among others in a lawsuit filed by a Syrian-born Canadian Maher Arar who said he was tortured in Syria after being deported by American authorities.[19]

On November 30, 2004, Ridge submitted his resignation to the President, saying, "After more than 22 consecutive years of public service, it is time to give personal and family matters a higher priority."[20] In his book The Test of Our Times: America Under Siege...and How We Can Be Safe Again, Ridge says his resignation was due to an effort by senior Bush administration officials to raise the nation's terror alert level in the days before the 2004 presidential vote.[3][21] Publication of Ridge's book is slated for September 1, 2009. The book further discusses

"the infighting he saw that frustrated his attempts to build a smooth-running department. Among the headlines promoted by publisher Thomas Dunne Books: Ridge was never invited to sit in on National Security Council meetings; was 'blindsided' by the FBI in morning Oval Office meetings because the agency withheld critical information from him; found his urgings to block Michael Brown from being named head of the emergency agency blamed for the Hurricane Katrina disaster ignored; and was pushed to raise the security alert on the eve of President Bush's re-election, something he saw as politically motivated and worth resigning over."[21]

Work in the private sector

Ridge is the founder and CEO of Ridge Global, an advisory firm in Washington, D.C.[22]

Ridge served on a state-appointed incident review panel which investigated the Virginia Tech massacre of April 2007.[23]


Home Depot

In February 2005, Tom Ridge was named to the board of Home Depot.[24] Ridge's compensation was expected to be about $100,000 per annum for this position.[25] Since April 2005, Ridge has also served on the board of Savi Technology,[26] the primary technology provider for the wireless cargo-monitoring network for the United States Department of Defense.[27]

Deloitte LLP

In November 2006, Tom Ridge was announced as a Senior Advisor for Deloitte & Touche USA LLP.[28][29]

The Hershey Company

In November 2007, Ridge was named to serve on The Hershey Company's Executive Board. The Hershey Trust, the primary shareholder of Hershey, asked for a change in board composition after several years of poor stock performance. The board named Ridge to the board for his knowledge of economics.[30]

TechRadium Inc

Announced in January 2008, Tom Ridge will serve as a senior advisor to TechRadium, Inc., a leading Texas-based security technology company that provides its patented alert and notification system, IRIS (Immediate Response Information System), to a wide range of users including municipalities, public schools and universities, utilities, and military programs.[31]

PURE Bioscience

In September 2009, PURE Bioscience, creator of a patented antimicrobial, announced Ridge would serve on its Advisory Board along with former Wisconsin governor Tommy Thompson.[32]

2008 U.S. Presidential election

Tom Ridge served as a senior aide to Republican Presidential candidate Senator John McCain of Arizona,[33] and was considered by some as a possible running mate for McCain.[1][2]

Possible 2010 Senate candidacy

According to Fox News, many Republicans hoped Ridge would run for the United States Senate against the newly turned Democrat Arlen Specter, who stated he would seek re-election in 2010 in the Democratic primary. Already seeking the Republican nomination was former Representative Pat Toomey, who narrowly lost to Specter in the Republican primary in 2004. Some Republicans thought Ridge would have a better chance against Specter than would Toomey. A Quinnipiac University poll conducted between April 30, 2009 and May 3, 2009 placed Ridge within three points of Specter in a hypothetical matchup between the two men.[34] Some Toomey supporters criticized the idea of a Ridge candidacy because, although Ridge was still registered to vote in Pennsylvania, he was actually living in Chevy Chase, Maryland.[35]

On May 7, 2009, Ridge announced that he would not be a candidate for the U.S. Senate in 2010.[36]


Personal life

Tom's wife, Michele Ridge, is the former executive director of the Erie County Library System. They have been married since 1979 and have two children: Lesley and Tommy.

Electoral history

Pennsylvania Gubernatorial Election 1994
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Republican Tom Ridge 1,627,976 45.40
Democratic Mark Singel 1,430,099 39.89
Constitution Peg Luksik 460,269 12.84
Pennsylvania Gubernatorial Election 1998
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Republican Tom Ridge (incumbent) 1,736,844 57.42
Democratic Ivan Itkin 938,745 31.03
Constitution Peg Luksik 315,761 10.44


  1. ^ a b "McCain Campaigns with Ridge as VP Speculation Intensifies". The Trail. The Washington Post. 2008-08-11. Retrieved 2008-08-12.  
  2. ^ a b Wedd, Justin (2008-08-20). "Veep predictions". BBC News. BBC. Retrieved 2008-08-21.  
  3. ^ a b "Ridge: I fought raising security level before '04 vote". Political Ticker. CNN. August 20, 2009. Retrieved 2009-08-21.  
  5. ^ Palattella, Ed; Scott Wescott (2003-01-21). "Growing Up: Ridge's journey begins". Erie Times-News. Retrieved 2008-08-20.  
  6. ^ Palattella, Ed; Scott Westcott (2003-01-21). "Growing up: Ridge's journey begins". (The Erie Times-News). Retrieved 2008-08-30.  
  7. ^ "Pennsylvania's Tom Ridge Appointed to Bush Cabinet". Online NewsHour. 2001-09-20. Retrieved 2005-05-22.  
  8. ^ "Tom Ridge on the Issues". On the Issues. 2000. Retrieved 2008-02-28.  
  9. ^ "Execution Warrants Issued by Governor (1985 to Present)" (PDF). Pennsylvania Department of Corrections. 2008-08-19. Retrieved 2008-02-28.  
  10. ^ "Sy Snyder's Politician of the Year 2001". PoliticsPA. The Publius Group. 2001. Archived from the original on 2002-08-31.  
  11. ^ "Keystone State Yearbook Committee". PoliticsPA. The Publius Group. 2001. Archived from the original on 2002-08-31.  
  12. ^ Starr, Alexandra (July/August 1999). "Running Mates: Who will be on the ticket in 2000?". Washington Monthly 31 (7). Retrieved 2005-09-22.  
  13. ^ BBC profile of Tom Ridge 9 November 2004 Security Chief Ridge: 'The Task is Enormous',, October 8, 2001.
  14. ^ Newsmaker: Tom Ridge, Online NewsHour, May 9, 2002
  15. ^ Person of the Week: Tom Ridge. Now for the hard part: After a week in which the Senate gave him a cabinet-level position, the Homeland Security chief is preparing to take on the toughest job in Washington,, November 22, 2002
  16. ^ Ridge's journey to the national stage, The Rising Son; updated January 21, 2003. Locally produced biography of Tom Ridge
  17. ^ Herb Barness '48 is a major player in the Republican party at the state and national level January 1996
  18. ^ Statement of the Hon. Rosa DeLauro on $10 Billion Accenture Government Contract June 1, 2004
  19. ^ "Canadian sues US over deportation". BBC News. 23 January 2004. Retrieved 13 September 2009.  
  20. ^ Anti-terror supremo is latest to quit Bush team December 1, 2004
  21. ^ a b Bedard, Paul. "Tom Ridge on National Security After 9/11", U.S. News & World Report, 19 Aug 2009.
  22. ^ Walsh, Katherine (2007-10-29). "Five Things Tom Ridge Has Learned About Risk". CIO magazine (CXO Media). Retrieved 2007-11-10.  
  23. ^ "Va. Tech gunman was 'well-prepared' to continue shooting spree". USA Today. 2007-05-21. Retrieved 2007-11-10.  
  24. ^ "Company News; Home Depot Names Tom Ridge a Director". The New York Times. 2005-02-25. Retrieved 2007-11-10.  
  25. ^ "Board work can be rewarding". Atlanta Business Chronicle. 2003-10-10. Retrieved 2007-11-10.  
  26. ^ "Tom Ridge Joins Savi Technology Board of Directors". RFID Update. 2005-04-08. Retrieved 2007-11-10.  
  27. ^ "Savi Fact Sheet". corporate web site. Savi Technology. Retrieved 2007-11-10.  
  28. ^ "Ridge joins Deloitte". Federal Computer Week. Media, Inc.. 2006-11-02. Retrieved 2008-02-06.  
  29. ^ "Meet Tom Ridge". Deloitte.,1007,sid=2228&cid=134359,00.html.  
  30. ^ Big changes at Hershey
  31. ^ "Tom Ridge to Advise TechRadium On 'IRIS' Technology". Yahoo! News. 2008-01-09. Retrieved 2008-01-11.  
  32. ^ "PURE Bioscience Forms Advisory Panel Tom Ridge, Tommy G. Thompson Among Inaugural Members". 2009-09-01.  
  33. ^ "Ridge A Leading Candidate For McCain VP Role?". The Bulletin. Retrieved 2008-01-31.  
  34. ^ "Poll says Specter holds 20-point edge over Toomey: A run by former Gov. Ridge would boost GOP's chances". (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette). May 4, 2009. Retrieved June 19, 2009.  
  35. ^ Micek, John L. (May 7, 2009). "Whither Tom Ridge?". The Morning Call. Retrieved 2009-05-07.  
  36. ^ "Ridge Says He Won't Seek Specter's Senate Seat". WFMZ-TV. May 7, 2009. Retrieved 2009-05-07.  

External links

United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Don Bailey
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Pennsylvania's 21st congressional district

Succeeded by
Phil English
Political offices
Preceded by
Bob Casey
Governor of Pennsylvania
Succeeded by
Mark S. Schweiker
Preceded by
Position Created
United States Homeland Security Advisor
Succeeded by
John A. Gordon
Preceded by
United States Secretary of Homeland Security
Served under: George W. Bush

Succeeded by
Michael Chertoff
Party political offices
Preceded by
Barbara Hafer
Republican nominee for Governor of Pennsylvania
1994 (won), 1998 (won)
Succeeded by
Michael Fisher


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