Trump’s Last Vacant Cabinet Post – The Atlantic

More than two weeks ago, multiple news outlets reported that Trump was set to pick Sonny Perdue to lead the Agriculture Department, or USDA. Perdue, a former governor of Georgia, is well regarded in agriculture circles. A former veterinarian who grew up on a farm and owns agribusiness holdings, and the cousin of U.S. Senator David Perdue, Sonny Perdue is an immigration hawk who once led lawmakers in a prayer for rain during a drought.

But Perdue has not been announced for the post, and Trump has continued to receive a parade of other contenders. When he named David Shulkin to head veterans affairs last week, USDA became the last unfilled Cabinet position.

After Perdue’s appointment was floated, reports indicated that the Trump team wanted to pick a woman or Hispanic for the position instead, in order to add diversity to the Cabinet. Elsa Murano, the former president of Texas A&M, and Abel Maldonado, former lieutenant governor of California, have been prominently mentioned. Both have experience with agriculture: Murano, an expert on food safety, was a USDA undersecretary under George W. Bush, while Maldonado is the child of immigrant farmworkers and owns a vineyard. But the idea that the administration might use the USDA post to “balance” the overwhelmingly white and male Cabinet has sparked controversy in agricultural circles.

“I would say there has been anguish,” Gary Baise, a D.C. lawyer who helped Trump marshal rural and agricultural support during the campaign, told me. “Agriculture is too important to use as a dumping ground for political correctness.”


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