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  Hutchinson to decide this month whether to stay at Homeland Security
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Last EditedArmyDem  Jan 12, 2005 06:11pm
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News DateWednesday, January 12, 2005 06:00:00 AM UTC0:0
DescriptionWednesday, Jan 12, 2005

By Alison Vekshin
Stephens Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON -- As President Bush announced his nominee to lead the Department of Homeland Security Tuesday, Asa Hutchinson said he will decide by the end of the month whether to remain as the department's third in command.

Hutchinson said he is exploring his career options in discussions with White House officials and Arkansas contacts.

"I will make a decision on my service at Homeland Security this month and will continue to evaluate my options for the future," Hutchinson said in a telephone interview.

Hutchinson, an undersecretary for border and transportation security, had been mentioned on a short list of contenders to succeed outgoing Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge.

Bush chose to nominate Michael Chertoff, a U.S. circuit judge for the Third Circuit Court of Appeals, after his nomination of former New York police commissioner Bernard Kerik fell through.

"I would hope that I can make a determination as to any continued role I might have or not have at the department," Hutchinson said.

Beyond that, Hutchinson, 54, declined to discuss specific goals, saying he has "not ruled out anything."

Last month, Hutchinson said among the options he was considering were entering the private sector, remaining in the federal government, and "returning to Arkansas and re-engaging in the political arena."

In Arkansas, Hutchinson has been mentioned as a contender in the governor's race in 2006, where he could face Lt. Gov. Win Rockefeller in a Republican primary. Rep. Mike Ross of Prescott and Attorney General Mike Beebe are possible Democratic contenders.
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