Former Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge hospitalized

Former U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge was in critical condition Thursday after undergoing an emergency heart procedure at a hospital in Austin.

A Ridge spokesman said the 72-year-old Ridge, Pennsylvania’s Republican governor from 1995 to 2001, was attending the Republican Governors Association conference when he called for help at his hotel at about 7 a.m.

The spokesman, Steve Aaron, said Ridge underwent a cardiac catheterization at Dell Seton Medical Center at the University of Texas. He said Ridge has been responsive with physicians.

Ridge was the nation’s first homeland security secretary, serving under President George W. Bush until 2005. He left the governorship after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, to join the Bush administration.

In recent years, Ridge has headed Ridge Global, a firm that advises on cyber security, international security and risk management. Aaron said Ridge was attending the conference for Ridge Global.

Ridge is a U.S. Marine Corps combat veteran of the Vietnam War. He was a six-term congressman from Erie, Pennsylvania, before being elected the state’s governor in 1994.

As governor, he led an anti-crime push that included a special legislative session, cut taxes, established charter schools and deregulated utilities. He also signed off on a massive increase in pension benefits for state workers and teachers, a decision that continues to cause problems for the state budget.

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