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

Former Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue on Wednesday made the trek to New York amid speculation that he’s on President-elect Donald Trump’s short list for secretary of agriculture.

The Republican spent nearly two hours at Trump Tower, according to pool reports.

Perdue later told reporters that he did not talk about filling any specific position in the Trump administration, but he said the president-elect asked him about his “skill sets.”

“I’m interested in helping the country,” said Perdue, who was decked out in a tie with tractors on it. “I told the president-elect … 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.”

Perdue called the meeting “very genuine, honest, forthright,” and he said the two discussed agriculture, trade and the economy.

The visit came a day after Trump named another prominent Georgia Republican, U.S. Rep. Tom Price of Roswell, as his pick to head the Department of Health and Human Services.

Perdue became Georgia’s first Republican governor since Reconstruction when he was elected in 2002. He was also an early Trump supporter, stumping for him in Middle Georgia in the final months of the campaign. His first cousin, U.S. Sen. David Perdue, was one of Trump’s highest-profile surrogates in the South.

“Sonny’s background in business, his medical background, his executive background as a governor make him an ideal choice,” David Perdue said in an interview Tuesday. “In fact, I think he may be the best choice I know in America to be in that ag position if he gets considered.”

A member of Trump’s agriculture advisory board, Sonny Perdue helped craft Georgia agriculture policy in the 1990s as a Democratic state senator from Houston County before switching to the GOP in the early 2000s to challenge Gov. Roy Barnes. His surprise victory triggered a Republican wave in Georgia that flipped the state Senate and then the state House. Now the GOP controls all of Georgia’s statewide offices.

Since leaving office in 2011, Perdue has run a string of agricultural, logistics and trucking firms from his base in Middle Georgia.

Other contenders for the post reportedly include former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller and U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran of Kansas.

Perdue’s former campaign manager, Nick Ayers, is now a top aide to Vice President-elect Mike Pence and a central player on Trump’s transition team.

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