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Former Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue meets with President-elect Trump; is Cabinet job ahead?

Former Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue speaks in support of his cousin, Georgia Republican U.S. Senate candidate David Perdue, at an election night party, Tuesday, Nov. 4, 2014, in Atlanta.
Former Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue speaks in support of his cousin, Georgia Republican U.S. Senate candidate David Perdue, at an election night party, Tuesday, Nov. 4, 2014, in Atlanta. AP

Former Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue traveled to New York for a face-to-face meeting with President-elect Donald Trump on Wednesday. Perdue is said to be under consideration for the secretary of agriculture position after serving as an adviser on Trump’s agricultural committee during the campaign.

The meeting was “very informal, very friendly and a great time," Perdue told reporters in Trump Tower afterward.

On Thursday afternoon in a telephone conversation, Perdue told The Telegraph, “It was an honor to be invited.”

Perdue was Georgia’s governor from 2003 to 2011. He first entered politics as a Democrat, when he was elected to the Georgia Senate in 1990. He switched to the Republican Party in 1998. A veterinarian by training, Perdue also served in the Air Force and owned several small businesses, including agriculture and fertilizer businesses.

Perdue described his meeting with Trump as “a very businesslike-type interview. Really kind of a job interview. It was not political. It was about the essence of the job and trade and agricultural potential and productivity, and I think he was trying to really find some content-expertise people to put in rather than political appointees. So I was encouraged by that.”

Perdue is the cousin of U.S. Sen. David Perdue, R-Ga., who was Trump’s most vocal supporter in the state.

Perdue first backed former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee in the 2016 presidential race. After Huckabee dropped out, Perdue endorsed former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush.

Of his trip to Trump Tower, Sonny Perdue said he found the president-elect “very interested to get going and to put his team together. ... I think he realized that he’s been hired to do a job. ... No anxiety, not overwhelmed, but just pretty steadfast in getting the job done.”

Perdue made national headlines during Georgia’s 2007 drought, when he was criticized for leading lawmakers in praying for rain on the steps of the state Capitol. It was protested by the Atlanta Freethought Society, which advocates for the separation of church and state.

Asked Thursday if a cabinet position and a job in Washington is something that interests him at this stage in his life, Perdue, a grandfather of 14 who turns 70 later this month, said, “That had to be contemplated and answered before I would agree to be interviewed. I think it would have been very duplicitous to go up for an interview, get the cameras and then to turn down somebody.”

He added that he and his wife, Mary, are not “looking forward to having our lives disrupted again, but honestly at this stage of America, I think it is truly one of those serve-your-county kind of deals. And if we get drafted, then we’re gonna report for duty.”

Perdue said he was told that a decision on the agriculture post could be made “in a week or two.”

Trump is reportedly also considering Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller, former Texas Gov. Rick Perry and Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback.

Another Georgian, Rep. Tom Price, was chosen to head Trump’s Department of Health and Human Services on Tuesday.

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Vera Bergengruen: 202-383-6036, @verambergen

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