Politics

Trump Picks Governor Who Prayed For Rain To Lead Agriculture Department

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President-elect Donald Trump will nominate former Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue to lead the Department of Agriculture, Politico confirmed with Trump transition officials Wednesday.

“I am proud and honored to be joining President-elect Trump’s administration as his Secretary of Agriculture,” Perdue said Thursday. “Beginning as a simple Georgia farm boy, making sure Americans who make their livelihood in the agriculture industry are thriving is near and dear to my heart, and I’m going to champion the concerns of American agriculture and work tirelessly to solve the issues facing our farm families in this new role.”

Perdue, 70, emerged as a top pick for the position soon after the Nov. 8 election, but Trump interviewed many others before settling on Perdue days before the inauguration.

“Sonny Perdue is going to accomplish great things as Secretary of Agriculture,” Trump said in a statement Thursday. “From growing up on a farm to being governor of a big agriculture state, he has spent his whole life understanding and solving the challenges our farmers face, and he is going to deliver big results for all Americans who earn their living off the land.”

He seems to align with Trump on trade, a key issue for agriculture groups. “[Trump] believes that we in the United States have been sort of patsies over the years in the way we’ve dealt with our foreign competitors and international trade — and I agree with him — and he wanted to know what I would do about it,” Perdue said after a Nov. 30 meeting with Trump.

A push to add a Hispanic to Trump’s cabinet led many to support California Lt. Gov. Abel Maldonado for the position.

Choosing Perdue will upset some lawmakers from Midwestern states. Iowa Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley, a member of the Senate Committee on Agriculture that will have to confirm Perdue, wanted to see an agriculture secretary from a state north of the Mason-Dixon line.

“America’s farmers are in experienced hands with Sonny Perdue,” Eric Tanenblatt, former chief of staff to Perdue and principal at the global law firm Dentons, told The Daily Caller News Foundation in a statement. “The president-elect’s lengthy and considered search to lead the Department of Agriculture was well-invested time, because he couldn’t have selected a better, or more qualified man to shape the nation’s  agricultural policy than Sonny Perdue.”

He was governor of Georgia from 2003 to 2011, and was the first Republican elected as governor of Georgia in more than a century. While governor, Perdue was criticized for taking part in a prayer vigil on the steps of the Georgia state house during a horrific drought in 2007.

Editor’s Note: This post has been updated to include comments from President-elect Trump and Gov. Perdue.

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