As always happens when there’s a vacancy in Washington, rumors are flying all over the place about Tom Ridge’s replacement as Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security. Ridge, of course, resigned recently, and he’ll be leaving his post on February 1, 2005. As far as I know, no timetable has been set to name a replacement.

Several names are being bandied about, from Asa Hutchinson (an undersecretary in the Department, and a former Congressman) to Bernard Kerik (former NYC Police Chief) to Fran Townsend (White House homeland security adviser).

Among the more interesting possibilities are Rudy Giuliani and Jim Gilmore. Guiliani would be a brilliant choice. He’s popular and he’d be in a position where some of his more liberal tendencies would have no bearing on his job (i.e., conservatives could support him). We know he’s not soft on crime or terrorism, so he’d fit perfectly. Plus, if Giuliani has any political ambition (President?), this would give him visibility over the next four years.

The other rumor involves the former Chairman of the RNC and ex-Governor of Virginia, Jim Gilmore. At first blush, I thought Gilmore had no chance.

Then I started thinking about it. Gilmore is currently serving as the president of USA Secure, which is a think tank in D.C. that focuses on homeland security. In addition, Gilmore chaired the Gilmore Commission, formally known as the Congressional Advisory Panel to Assess Domestic Response Capabilities for Terrorism Involving Weapons of Mass Destruction. That Commission’s work helped immensely in the development of the Homeland Security Department.

It’s something to think about. I wasn’t a big fan of the Homeland Security Department’s creation (the last thing we need is another bureaucracy), but it’s a cabinet-level position, so Bush needs the right person in there.

UPDATE: Well, that was quick. Former New York police commissioner Bernard Kerik has been named by President Bush to lead the Department of Homeland Security.

Seems like a reasonable choice.

Maybe if I write about my alma mater signing a top-flight basketball recruit, a player will sign as quickly as Bush made the above post obsolete.