Georgia ex-governor is top choice for agriculture head: Trump transition official

Former Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue is U.S. President-elect Donald Trump’s leading candidate to run the U.S. Department of Agriculture, a senior Trump transition team official said on Monday.

Perdue, a Democrat-turned-Republican who founded a grain and fertilizer business, led the southern U.S. state for two terms as governor from 2003 to 2011.

Previously:

President-elect Donald Trump spent Friday meeting with three Texans up for the spot of Agriculture secretary.

Former Texas Comptroller Susan Combs, former Republican Rep. Henry Bonilla and current Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller all traveled to Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Fla., to discuss the position.

Combs and Bonilla met with Trump while Miller met with incoming White House chief-of-staff Reince Priebus and chief strategist Steve Bannon.

Bonilla told reporters that his meeting went “very well” and that he remains under consideration for the position.

“I didn’t ask him about other interviews or who else has been through here, but I sense that they’re close to making a decision, they’ve got quite a few people, that’s my understanding,” he said.

Bonilla cited his work as the chairman of the House Appropriations Committee’s subcommittee on agriculture, which controls the budget for the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

When asked what regulations he would like to change, Bonilla pointed to President Obama’s Clean Water Rule, which regularly draws the ire of Republicans.

The Clean Water Rule was published by the Environmental Protection Agency.

Miller’s office characterized the meeting as “very positive,” noting that Miller made his pitch for how the department could “positively impact Texas and the nation.” His office noted that the transition did not make an announcement, either in public or private, about the position.

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“I am encouraged by their attention to agriculture-related policy issues and I am confident that Donald Trump will do all he can to help America’s farmers and ranchers. I am also pleased to know that the new administration will look to Texas for guidance and leadership on agriculture and border security questions,” Miller said in a statement.

“I look forward to continuing the discussion on policy issues that will benefit Texas agriculture, including opening markets to Texas products and easing the regulatory burden on our farmers and ranchers.”

While Combs met with Trump Friday, she did not make public comments after her meeting.

The spot is one of Trump’s two remaining Cabinet picks, along with secretary of Veterans Affairs. He also has to fill two other Cabinet-level slots: chair of the Council of Economic Advisers and United States Trade Representative.

Trump has spent significant time this week hashing out candidates for the Agriculture slot, meeting with two other candidates on Wednesday: former Texas A&M University President Elsa Murano and former California Lt. Gov. Abel Maldonado.