Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson emerged on Wednesday as a new leading contender to replace Chuck Hagel as secretary of defense, but the race remains fluid and the timetable for an appointment still unclear.

Johnson is part of a field that’s said to include Bob Work and Ash Carter, the current and former deputy secretaries of defense, as well as Navy Secretary Ray Mabus and Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James. And Rep. Adam Smith of Washington state, the top Democrat on the House Armed Services Committee, is still another possibility.

Off the list are Sen. Jack Reed of Rhode Island, the incoming top Democrat on the Senate Armed Services Committee, and former Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Michele Flournoy. Both have said they don’t want the job.

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