Sonny Perdue’s ag chief hopes dim as Trump expands search

Former Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue arrives at Trump Tower in New York City on Nov. 30, 2016. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Former Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue arrives at Trump Tower in New York City on Nov. 30, 2016. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

With his inauguration less than a month away, Donald Trump is expanding his search for agriculture secretary. And that’s not an encouraging sign for former Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue, once considered a top contender for the post.

With much of his top administration officials settled, including his pick of U.S. Rep. Tom Price of Roswell for health secretary, the agriculture gig is one of only two remaining Cabinet-level secretaries the president-elect has yet to fill. (The other is Secretary of Veterans Affairs.)

And Trump’s transition team said Wednesday their search to run the $140 billion agriculture department has expanded beyond a field that included Perdue, Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller, Idaho Gov. Butch Otter, Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback and U.S. Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, a North Dakota Democrat.

Transition spokesman Sean Spicer said Trump will meet Wednesday with ex-California Lt. Gov. Abel Maldonado, a Republican who launched an aborted bid for governor in 2014. He also plans to meet Wednesday with former Texas A&M president Elsa Murano to discuss the job.

Perdue has some powerful allies in the incoming Trump administration. Nick Ayers, Perdue’s former campaign manager, is now a top aide to Vice President-elect Mike Pence and was a finalist to lead the Republican National Committee.

“I’m interested in helping the country,” Perdue said after his visit to Trump Tower last month, adding that he told Trump “I’d be happy to serve him if he thought I could be helpful to him.”

Read more about the Trump transition and the Perdues:

Sonny Perdue meets Donald Trump: ‘I’d be happy to serve’

Trump administration could mean greater clout for Perdue circle

Sonny Perdue discusses ‘skill set’ with Trump, who still needs ag chief

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