Less than 2 days before Donald J. Trump officially takes his seat as the 45th president of the United States, reports began to surface that the President-Elect finally chose a new leader to head up the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)--former Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue, a Republican.
The delay in choosing a new USDA leader was, according to reports, partly due to political pressure the President-Elect faced to pick an agricultural expert hailing from the Midwest, an area known for its abundance of farmland and livestock. The delay also raised hopes that Trump would shock everyone by rounding out his Cabinet with a minority pick, particularly one of Hispanic descent.
Perdue reportedly interviewed with Trump back in November. He later told reporters, “He asked me what my skills sets were and I told him what they were, aside from having been governor, as a business person and primarily in agricultural commodities, trading domestically and internationally. And he lit up.”
A few facts about Sonny Perdue:
- He is a 70 year old native of Perry, GA.
- In 1971, Perdue earned a doctorate in veterinary medicine from the University of Georgia.
- He was a Captain in the U.S. Air Force.
- Perdue played a vital part in shaping Georgia’s agriculture policy in the 1990s. At the time, he was a Democratic senator, later joining the Republican party in 1998.
- His election as Georgia’s governor in 2002 made him the state’s first GOP pick since the Reconstruction Era, an outcome that also led to Georgia’s transition from a blue state to a red state.
- Perdue was at the helm of Georgia’s much publicized water dispute with Alabama and Florida, forcing him to enact tough water use restrictions throughout the state in 2007.
- Since leaving the governor’s office in 2011, Perdue has maintained a number of businesses in the agriculture, logistics and trucking industries.
- Perdue originally supported Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee for president, then moved his support to Florida Gov. Jeb Bush. It wasn’t until Trump earned the Republican nomination that Perdue supported the President-Elect’s campaign and eventually served on his agriculture advisory board.
The official announcement of Trump’s very last Cabinet pick is expected today, although the nomination must be still be confirmed by the Republican-led Senate.