President-elect Donald J. Trump has two cabinet openings left to fill — the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Veterans Affairs — and now Washington is buzzing that former Georgia governor George E. “Sonny” Perdue is lined up for the USDA nod.
“If you were to dial into somebody with the knowledge, experience and character to be secretary of agriculture, you would couldn’t come up with a better name than Sonny,” said an individual familiar with the governor, who worked with him in a senior capacity.
“You have to understand, he grew up on a farm,” the source said. “He’s spent time on a tractor and he understands Southern agriculture and agriculture in general. It was his life and it was his business.”
Perdue met Nov. 30 with the president-elect and the Presidential Transition Team at Manhattan’s Trump Tower and according to the Atlanta Journal Constitution he is eager to join the new administration:
“I’m interested in helping the country,” said Perdue, who was decked out in a tie with tractors on it and a backpack. “I told the president-elect Trump that I would be happy to serve from Georgia, where I am very happily living with my wife and 14 grandchildren, or I’d be happy to serve him if he thought I could be helpful to him here in D.C.”
When Perdue was governor, he worked with members of Georgia’s Capitol Hill delegation to advocate for his farmers and established working relationships through the Republican Governors Association to work together on agricultural issues, the source said. “A lot times you find as a governor that if you have a problem, there are other governors with the same problem, and Sonny was a guy who could reach out to others.”
Perdue has two cousins in his corner as he vies for the top job. One cousin is Sen. David A. Perdue Jr. (R.-Ga.), the former corporate turnaround expert and, more importantly, President-elect Donald J. Trump‘s strongest supporter in the Senate, save but for Sen. Jeff Sessions (R.-Ala.). The other cousin is the wife of GOP operative Nick Ayers, who was the senior adviser to Vice-President Michael R. Pence during the 2016 presidential campaign.
As RNC chair, @nick_ayers would be a tireless advocate for Republican candidates & principles across the country. He would be a great pick!
— David Perdue (@Perduesenate) December 9, 2016
If Perdue makes the cut, he would be the second Georgian after Republican Rep. Thomas E. Price, the physician-politician selected by Trump to lead the Department of Health and Human Services.