Donald Trump still hasn’t announced his agriculture secretary just days before he is to be sworn in as the nation’s new president. And the delay in filling his final Cabinet position has put former Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue in a precarious limbo.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and other media outlets reported more than two weeks ago that Perdue is a leading contender for the job, but no announcement has come from Trump’s camp.
Politico’s report of a turf war between agribusiness leaders and Trump supporters who want more diversity in the Cabinet sheds some light on the behind-the-scenes fight. From the story:
Now, sources say Perdue’s status as the favorite may be in doubt amid a last-minute push for former California Lt. Gov. Abel Maldonado, who offers Trump one last chance to put a Hispanic in the Cabinet.
As the various sides have battled for weeks, Trump’s farm policy advisers and the rural voters who helped propel him to victory have been left almost entirely in the dark.
“It’s very risky to think you know anything, because you don’t,” said John Block, a member of Trump’s agriculture advisory council who served as Agriculture secretary under Ronald Reagan. “We don’t know anything.”
Maldonado added to the speculation with this tweet late Tuesday:
Tom Vilsack, who ran the $140 billion department for the last eight years, stepped down from the job last week, and many agriculture policy leaders are baffled why Trump has taken so long to pick his replacement. After all, they note, Trump’s landslide victory among rural voters fueled his election victory.
“It certainly has folks concerned or worried that maybe it just doesn’t seem to be getting the attention that we would like it to,” Roger Johnson of the National Farmers Union told Bloomberg. “Folks in agriculture and rural America feel like they delivered for this president and they just want there to be more attention.”
The agriculture secretary is typically among the last picks for an incoming president, but this wait is unusually long. Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama all announced their agriculture chiefs in late December.
Read more about the Trump transition and the Perdues: