Skip to comments.Asa Hutchinson states he plans no Senate bid
Posted on 05/01/2003 8:07:06 PM PDT by HAL9000
WASHINGTON - Former Congressman Asa Hutchinson disputed reports Wednesday that he seeks to oppose Democratic Sen. Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas in the November 2004 election for the U.S. Senate.
Hutchinson said he had previously ignored the rumor that depicted him as a potential candidate, but then Roll Call, a newspaper that covers Capitol Hill, reported that Hutchinson had signaled to the White House that he would run for the Senate if asked to do so by the president. "That story is flat wrong. Since joining the administration, I have not expressed any interest in a campaign for the United States Senate," Hutchinson said. "My total commitment is to setting up the Department of Homeland Security in a way that makes every American safer and more secure. I do not expect that to change. I love the state of Arkansas. It is my home, and I expect to return but not until I've completed the enormous responsibility before me."
Hutchinson is the former representative from Arkansas' 3 rd Congressional District who now is the undersecretary for border and transportation security within the Department of Homeland Security. His division contains nearly 100,000 employees who work in such agencies as the Border Patrol, Customs Service, and the Immigration and Naturalization Service. He has been on the job about three months.
Hutchinson said he understands that speculation about potential candidates is bound to occur. He said he hadn't previously addressed speculation about his status as a candidate because it would have distracted him from his work. But he said Wednesday's report changed his mind. "I'm flattered to even be mentioned," he said. "I just have a big job. I don't want to forsake a national responsibility at this time. It's just too important right now."
While Hutchinson said he has not approached the White House about running for the Senate, he declined to say whether the White House has approached him about that possibility.
A national Republican said that determining a challenger to Lincoln won't begin until the Arkansas Legislature completes a special session that starts Monday. Officials will then want to sound out Gov. Mike Huckabee on his interest in opposing Lincoln. If he declines or it takes him several months to make a decision, then pressure would build to land Hutchinson as a candidate. A source close to Hutchinson said he could promise that Hutchinson would prefer to stay where he is now, and the only person who could get him to change that position would be President Bush.