Tom Ridge, a former Republican governor of Pennsylvania and the first US secretary of Homeland Security, was transferred by ambulance to a hospital in the Washington area Wednesday morning after suffering a stroke at his residence in Bethesda, Maryland, according to a statement provided to CNN by Ridge Global LLC.
According to the statement, the 75-year-old Ridge was conscious when he arrived at the hospital’s emergency department and later underwent a successful procedure to remove a blood clot. He was in critical but stable condition early Wednesday evening.
“The family requests your prayers for a full recovery. Further updates will be provided as events warrant,” the statement said.
Pennsylvania Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf tweeted Wednesday evening: “Frances and I are sending our prayers to the Ridge family. Wishing Governor Ridge a full and swift recovery.”
Ridge served in the US House from 1983 to 1995, when he was sworn in for his first term as Pennsylvania governor. He was elected to a second term in 1998 and served until 2001, when he was tapped by then-President George W. Bush to be the White House homeland security adviser in the wake of the 9/11 attacks. Bush had considered Ridge as a vice presidential pick in 2000, but instead chose Dick Cheney.
When Ridge was Pennsylvania’s governor, his “aggressive technology strategy helped fuel the state’s advances in the priority areas of economic development, education, health and the environment,” according to an official biography.
His post-9/11 job in the Bush administration eventually led to him being picked to serve as secretary of the newly formed Department of Homeland Security in January 2003, a role he held until he resigned in 2005 to focus on personal and family matters.
One of Ridge’s highest-profile moves at DHS was to oversee the creation of the color-coded threat-warning system.
After leaving public office, the former secretary founded Ridge Global LLC, a risk management company based in Washington.
Ridge has occasionally entered the political fray to weigh in on controversial issues in recent years, including last June, when he criticized the Trump administration’s decision to send DHS agents to Portland, Oregon, amid unrest there, saying the move was “not consistent” with the department’s mission.
The former Republican governor went on to endorse Joe Biden for president in September 2020, adding his name to a broad list of prominent GOP endorsements for Biden.
This story has been updated with additional details.