George Ervin "Sonny" Perdue III (born December 20, 1946) is an American veterinarian, businessman, and politician currently serving as the 31st United States Secretary of Agriculture since 2017. He previously served as the 81st Governor of Georgia from 2003 to 2011. He was the first Republican Governor of Georgia since Reconstruction.
Founder and partner in an agricultural trading company, Perdue served from 2012 to 2017 on the Governors' Council of the Bipartisan Policy Center in Washington, D.C. He is the second Secretary of Agriculture from the Deep South; the first was Mike Espy of Mississippi, who served under President Bill Clinton from January 1993 to December 1994.
On January 18, 2017, President-elect Donald Trump announced that he would nominate Perdue to be Secretary of Agriculture. His nomination was transmitted to the U.S. Senate on March 9, 2017. His nomination was approved by the United States Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry on March 30 by a 19–1 voice vote, and by the entire Senate in a vote of 87–11 on April 24.
|31st United States Secretary of Agriculture|
|Assumed office |
April 25, 2017
|Preceded by||Tom Vilsack|
|81st Governor of Georgia|
January 13, 2003 – January 10, 2011
|Preceded by||Roy Barnes|
|Succeeded by||Nathan Deal|
|Member of the Georgia Senate|
from the 18th district
January 9, 1991 – January 9, 2002
|Preceded by||Ed Barker|
|Succeeded by||Ross Tolleson|
George Ervin Perdue III
December 20, 1946
Perry, Georgia, U.S.
|Political party||Republican (1998–present)|
|Democratic (before 1998)|
|Relatives||David Perdue (cousin)|
|Education||University of Georgia (BS, DVM)|
|Branch/service||United States Air Force|
|Years of service||1971–1974|
Perdue was born in Perry, Georgia, the son of Ophie Viola (Holt), a teacher, and George Ervin Perdue Jr., a farmer. He grew up and still lives in Bonaire, an unincorporated area between Perry and Warner Robins. Born George Ervin Perdue III, Perdue has been known as Sonny since childhood, and prefers to be called by that name; he was sworn in and signs official documents as "Sonny Perdue." Perdue is the first cousin of U.S. Senator David Perdue.
In 1971, Perdue earned his Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) from the University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine, and worked as a veterinarian before becoming a small business owner, eventually starting three small businesses.
After serving as a member of the Houston County Planning & Zoning Commission in the 1980s, Perdue ran as a Democrat for a seat in the Georgia General Assembly. He defeated Republican candidate Ned Sanders in 1990 and succeeded Democratic incumbent Ed Barker as the senator representing the 18th district.
Perdue was elected as a Democrat in 1991, 1994, and 1996. He served as his party's leader in the Senate from 1994 to 1997 and as president pro tempore. After his first year in office Senator Perdue wrote then Lt. Governor Pierre Howard asking for more responsibilities, and Howard obliged. He shortly after became a committee chairman, then climbed the leadership ladder to majority leader, then Senate Pro-Tempore. Many credit Pierre Howard for helping Perdue build the early foundation of what would become his future political career.
His committee assignments included Ethics, Finance & Public Utilities, Health & Human Services, Reapportionment and Economic Development, Tourism & Cultural Affairs.
In December 2001, Perdue resigned as state senator and devoted himself entirely to running for the office of Governor of Georgia. He won the 2002 Georgia gubernatorial election, defeating Democratic incumbent Roy Barnes 51% to 46%, with Libertarian candidate Garrett Michael Hayes taking 2% of the vote. He became the first Republican governor of Georgia in over 130 years since Benjamin F. Conley.
In 2006, Perdue was re-elected to a second term in the 2006 Georgia gubernatorial election, winning nearly 58% of the vote. His Democratic opponent was Lieutenant Governor Mark Taylor. Libertarian Garrett Michael Hayes was also on the ballot.
Perdue advocated reforms designed to cut waste in government, most notably the sale of surplus vehicles and real estate. Prior to Perdue's becoming governor, no state agency had even compiled an inventory of what assets the state owned.
In January 2003, Perdue signed an executive order prohibiting himself and all other state employees from receiving any gift worth more than $25. During his governorship, Perdue collected at least $25,000 in gifts, including sporting event tickets and airplane flights.
Late in the evening of March 29, 2005, the penultimate day of the legislative session, Representative Larry O'Neal, who also worked part-time as Perdue’s personal lawyer, introduced legislation making capital gains tax owed on Georgia land sales deferrable if the income goes to purchase out-of-state land, also, unusually, making the tax break retroactive. Perdue signed the legislation into law on April 12, 2005, three days before tax day. Perdue then used the new law on his 2004 tax return to defer $100,000 in taxable gains from the sale of land.
In 2007, Perdue convinced a skeptical legislature to approve a $19 million fishing tourism program he called Go Fish Georgia. Perdue then decided that the Go Fish Education Center would be built down the road from his home.
In education, Perdue promoted the return of most decision-making to the local level. After Perdue took office, in 2003 and 2004, Georgia moved up from last place in the country in SAT scores. Although it returned to last place in 2005, Georgia rose to 49th place in 2006 in the combined math and reading mean score, including the writing portion added to the test that year. In 2007, Georgia moved up to 46th place. In 2008, Georgia moved up again, to 45th place. Perdue also created additional opportunities for charter schools and private schools.
After Democratic Governor Roy Barnes replaced the 1956 state flag, which was adopted by Georgia to protest integration, because it featured a battle flag emblem of the Confederacy, Perdue promised in his 2002 election campaign that he would let the state's citizens vote to determine the state flag of Georgia. The choices given to Georgian voters were a modified version of the First National Flag of the Confederate States of America with the Georgia State Seal prominently displayed inside a circle of 13 stars, or the version of the flag created in 2001 by the Roy Barnes administration. The design of the 2001 Georgian flag was widely unpopular, being derisively named the "Barnes flag", and the North American Vexillological Association deemed it the ugliest U.S. state flag. Perdue disappointed some Georgians by not including the 1956 flag as a choice on the ballot despite his campaign promises to do so. However, Perdue was faced with a Democratic House that would not consider having the 1956 flag on the referendum due to its Confederate origins, and he needed support for a tobacco tax he wanted to pass to raise revenue. Georgia voters chose the flag resembling the Confederate flag.
In 2004, Perdue sued the Environmental Protection Agency to block environmental regulations on reformulated gasoline. In a 2014 editorial published by National Review, Perdue criticized attempts by "some on the left or in the mainstream media" to connect climate change to weather events. Perdue wrote that "liberals have lost all credibility when it comes to climate science because their arguments have become so ridiculous and so obviously disconnected from reality."
In 2006, Perdue signed a law that gave Georgia "some of the nation's toughest measures against illegal immigrants".
On November 13, 2007, while Georgia suffered from one of the worst droughts in several decades, Perdue led a group of several hundred people in a prayer on the steps of the state Capitol. Perdue addressed the crowd, saying "We’ve come together here simply for one reason and one reason only: To very reverently and respectfully pray up a storm" and "God, we need you; we need rain".
According to a March 5, 2008, proclamation by Perdue, "Among those who served the Confederacy were many African-Americans, both free and slave, who saw action in the Confederate armed forces in many combat roles. According to the Georgia government's website on Confederate History Month, they also participated in the manufacture of products for the war effort, built naval ships, and provided military assistance and relief efforts..." The proclamation was criticized by historians for its historical inaccuracies, although there were in fact African-Americans who served the Confederacy, both voluntarily and compulsory.
In 2008, Perdue worked with the Georgia Emergency Management Agency to implement Ready Georgia, a campaign to increase disaster preparedness throughout the state. The next year, Georgia was affected by the 2009 Southeastern United States floods, which were the most severe floods in Georgia's recorded history. The floods resulted in Perdue declaring a state of emergency in 17 counties.
Beginning in 2007, Governor Perdue began to pursue the goal of making Georgia the "bass-fishing tourism mecca". The administration began acquiring bond money for the Go Fish Education Center near his home in Perry,GA. According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, payments on the Go Fish bonds, approved by Perdue and the General Assembly in 2007, runs through December 2027 with most payments $1 million a year in bond money. 
Upon the end of Perdue's term as Governor, many in the Georgia General Assembly condemned the project and Perdue after an advisory council (appointed by Perdue) began to funnel additional bond money to the project located in his home county. "To me it was a boondoggle because of the amount of money they were spending and the location," said Rep. Alan Powell, R-Hartwell, a member of the House Appropriations Committee. "You have got to have stuff where there is a lot of traffic. It's a little off the beaten path."
The project overall has been scrutinized as a waste of taxpayer money due to mismanagement of bond money and extremely low visitors. The Georgia Department of Natural Resources figures show 21,101 people visited the Perry facility in fiscal 2015, which ended June 30. It generated $102,077 in revenue, or about 11 cents for every dollar it cost to run the center in years past.
During his governorship, the Georgia State Ethics Commission received thirteen complaints against Perdue. The State Ethics Commission ruled against Perdue twice, finding that Perdue had taken improper campaign contributions from donors including SunTrust Banks, and that he had improperly used one of his family business's airplanes on campaign, for which the Commission, unusually, fined the sitting governor.
In mid-2003, Perdue purchased 101 acres (0.41 km2) of land next to his Houston County, Georgia home. The land was adjacent to the 20,000-acre Oaky Woods preserve being sold by Weyerhaeuser. The land was eventually sold to developers; however, the state was evaluating bidding on the property and keeping it as a reserve. After the state dropped out of the bidding and the land was sold to developers, the value of Perdue's property more than doubled. Perdue failed to disclose his ownership of the property in required financial disclosure forms.
Perdue was constitutionally ineligible to seek a third consecutive term as governor in the 2010 Georgia gubernatorial election. In 2011, he founded Perdue Partners, which facilitates the export of U.S. goods and services.
During meetings with Georgia state port officials, then-Governor Perdue discussed his family business's use of a terminal, then started a new export company in Savannah soon after leaving office.
On January 18, 2017, incoming President Donald Trump announced that he would nominate Perdue to be United States Secretary of Agriculture. The United States Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry overwhelmingly approved his nomination on March 30, with a 19–1 vote. The sole vote against him came from Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY). Senator David Perdue (R-GA) abstained, as he is the nominee's first cousin. He was confirmed by the Senate on April 24, and sworn in by Supreme Court Associate Justice Clarence Thomas.
During his tenure as Secretary of Agriculture, Perdue has focused on helping new farmers get started in agriculture. In August 2017, he announced a mentoring program for new farmers. Others issues addressed by Perdue include assisting rural communities, helping farmers operate with less regulation, increasing exports, passing the 2018 Farm Bill, and addressing crop damage caused by dicamba. In Dec of 2018, he also changed the nutrition standards for school lunches to allow more refined grains, allow milk with added sugar, and increased sodium.
Perdue and his wife, Mary (née Ruff), were married in 1972 after dating for four years. They have four children (Leigh, Lara, Jim, and Dan), fourteen grandchildren (six boys and eight girls), and have also been foster parents for many children. Perdue lives in Bonaire, Georgia.
In 2006, Perdue's financial disclosure forms revealed that he had a net worth of approximately $6 million and received compensation of $700,000 that year.
|Democratic||Sonny Perdue (Incumbent)||28,920||100|
|Republican||Sonny Perdue (Incumbent)||24,543||100|
|Republican||Sonny Perdue (Incumbent)||30,681||69.2|
|Democratic||Roy Barnes (Incumbent)||937,062||46.3|
|Libertarian||Garrett Michael Hayes||47,122||2.3|
|Republican gain from Democratic||Swing|
|Republican||Sonny Perdue (incumbent)||1,229,724||57.9||+6.5|
|Libertarian||Garrett Michael Hayes||81,412||3.8||+1.5|
|Georgia State Senate|
| Member of the Georgia Senate
from the 18th district
|Party political offices|
| Republican nominee for Governor of Georgia
| Chair of the Republican Governors Association
| Governor of Georgia
| United States Secretary of Agriculture
|U.S. order of precedence (ceremonial)|
as Acting Secretary of the Interior
| Order of Precedence of the United States
Secretary of Agriculture
as Secretary of Commerce
|U.S. presidential line of succession|
as Acting Secretary of the Interior
| 9th in line
Secretary of Agriculture
as Secretary of Commerce
The 2002 Georgia gubernatorial election was held on November 5, 2002. Incumbent Democratic Governor Roy Barnes sought re-election to a second term as governor. State Senator Sonny Perdue emerged as the Republican nominee from a crowded and hotly contested primary, and he faced off against Barnes, who had faced no opponents in his primary election, in the general election. Though Barnes had been nicknamed "King Roy" due to his unique ability to get his legislative priorities passed, he faced a backlash among Georgia voters due to his proposal to change the state flag. Ultimately, Perdue was able to defeat incumbent Governor Barnes and became the first Republican to serve as governor of the state since Reconstruction. The result was widely considered a major upset.2006 Georgia gubernatorial election
The 2006 Georgia gubernatorial election was held on November 7, 2006. Incumbent Republican Governor Sonny Perdue ran for re-election to a second and final term as governor. Governor Perdue was renominated by the Republican Party, defeating a minor opponent in the process, while Lieutenant Governor Mark Taylor narrowly emerged victorious from a competitive Democratic primary. In the general election, though Taylor ran a spirited campaign, Perdue was aided by the increasing tendency of the state to vote for Republicans and by his popularity with the public; polling showed his approval ratings above sixty percent. In the end, Perdue was overwhelmingly re-elected as governor, defeating Taylor in a landslide.
Exit polls showed that Perdue won white voters (68% to 27%) while Taylor won black voters (81% to 17%). Perdue's 17% of the African American vote was the highest showing of any Republican seeking statewide office in Georgia.2010 Georgia gubernatorial election
The 2010 Georgia gubernatorial election was held on November 2, 2010. Incumbent Republican Governor Sonny Perdue was term-limited and unable to seek re-election. Primary elections for the Republican and Democratic parties took place on July 20, with a Republican runoff on August 10. The Libertarian Party also had ballot access and nominated John Monds. On November 2, 2010, Barnes conceded to Nathan Deal. He took office on January 10, 2011. As of 2019, this was the last election in which a candidate won the governorship by double digits.Bill Heath (politician)
Bill Heath is a Republican member of the Georgia State Senate serving since 2005. He served as the Senate Floor Leader for Governor Sonny Perdue. Prior to his election to the state senate, Heath served one two-year term in the Georgia House of Representatives.Bonaire, Georgia
Bonaire is an unincorporated community in Houston County in the U.S. state of Georgia. It is 6 miles (10 km) south of the center of Warner Robins and is part of the Warner Robins Metropolitan Statistical Area. Bonaire is located on and around U.S. Route 129/Georgia State Route 247, which is connected to Interstate 75 by Georgia State Route 96. Bonaire is the hometown of former Governor Sonny Perdue.David Perdue
David Alfred Perdue Jr. (; born December 10, 1949) is an American businessman and politician serving as the junior United States Senator from Georgia since 2015. He was elected in 2014 to the seat previously held by Saxby Chambliss, who retired. Perdue won the Republican primary and defeated Democratic nominee Michelle Nunn. He is a first cousin of Sonny Perdue, former Governor of Georgia and current United States Secretary of Agriculture.
David Perdue started his business career with more than a decade as a management consultant. In 1992 he became a VP at Sara Lee Corporation. During the next decade, he worked with Haggar Clothing, and Reebok. He was unable to correct problems at Pillowtex, which he joined in 2002, leaving after nine months with a large buyout. Perdue next worked for Dollar General, where he did achieve a turnaround, and later for the Gujarat Heavy Chemicals Ltd., whose interests in India included textile mills. Before entering politics, Perdue set up a global trading firm in Atlanta, Georgia.Eric Tanenblatt
Eric Tanenblatt (born August 15, 1966) is a U.S. Republican Party activist from the state of Georgia. He was a presidential elector in 2000 and 2004. He later served as Chief of Staff to Governor Sonny Perdue. Tanenblatt is currently a principal and head of the public policy practice at the global law firm of Dentons US LLP.Keith R. Blackwell
Keith Robert Blackwell (born July 4, 1975) is an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of Georgia. He was appointed to this position by Governor Nathan Deal on June 25, 2012. Before that, he was a judge of the Georgia Court of Appeals, to which he was appointed by Governor Sonny Perdue on November 1, 2010. In September 2016, he was named as a possible Supreme Court of the United States nominee by Donald Trump.Mark Taylor (American politician)
Mark Fletcher Taylor (born May 7, 1957) is an American businessman, politician and member of the Democratic Party. He served two terms between 1999 and 2007 as the tenth Lieutenant Governor of Georgia. Taylor was the Democratic nominee for governor of Georgia in 2006, losing in the general election to Republican incumbent Sonny Perdue.Mike Young (agriculture official)
Michael L. Young is an American government official. He served as the acting United States Secretary of Agriculture from January 20, 2017, when Donald Trump took office as President of the United States, to April 25, 2017, when the United States Senate confirmed Sonny Perdue as the new secretary. Young has been director of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Office of Budget and Policy Analysis since October 2010, and has served for 25 years in that office, and has previously served in other positions within the department. He has a bachelor of science degree in botany from Colorado State University and a master of business administration degree from George Washington University.Prayer warrior
Prayer warrior is a term used by many evangelical and other Christians to refer to anyone who is committed to praying for others.
Within the context of Dominion theology, prayer warriors see themselves as engaged in spiritual warfare against satanic forces.Prayer warriors may pray for individuals, or for entire states or regions. One recent development has been prayer undertaken by groups of people flying over the areas for which they wish to undertake intercession.During the Iraq War, one aspect of the debate over U.S. involvement was a "prayer battle," with one side praying in support of the policies of the Bush Administration and the other taking an anti-war stance. Alabama Governor Bob Riley urged his constituents to act as prayer warriors, and Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue designated a three-day prayer weekend that he cast as a spiritual battle. Although most "prayer warriors for peace" were identified as Christians, Muslims in the U.S. and Indonesia were also said to have taken part.Sarah Palin, the Vice-Presidential candidate for the Republican Party in the 2008 U.S. presidential elections, regularly acknowledges the support of prayer warriors in her speeches and interviews, and has spoken of them as offering a "prayer shield." As a candidate, she thanked prayer warriors for their support and spoke of divine intervention in the election as a result.Ranchers-Cattlemen Action Legal Fund v. Sonny Perdue
Ranchers-Cattlemen Action Legal Fund v. Sonny Perdue (No. 4:16-cv-00041-BMM) is a case in which plaintiffs allege that checkoff dollars are being used to support Canadian and Mexican beef. Checkoffs are mandatory contributions, from beef producers in this case, which are used for generic industry advertising and research.This case is distinguished from Ranchers-Cattlemen Action Legal Fund v. USDA (No. 2:17-cv-00223), a challenge to USDA rules that allow Mexican and Canadian beef to be labelled as domestic beef.Ready Georgia
Ready Georgia is a statewide emergency preparedness campaign in the U.S. state of Georgia instituted by the Georgia Emergency Management Agency (GEMA) and Governor Sonny Perdue in conjunction with the national Ready America campaign sponsored by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Ready Georgia is supported by The Ad Council, local volunteer organizations, and corporate partnerships.Richard Jewell
Richard Allensworth Jewell (born Richard White; December 17, 1962 – August 29, 2007) was an American police officer and security guard. While working as a security guard for AT&T, he became known in connection with the Centennial Olympic Park bombing at the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, Georgia. Discovering a backpack filled with three pipe bombs on the park grounds, Jewell alerted police and helped to evacuate the area before the bomb exploded, saving many people from injury or death. Initially hailed by the media as a hero, Jewell was later considered a suspect. Jewell's case is considered an example of the damage that can be done by media reporting based on unreliable or incomplete information.Despite never being charged, he underwent a "trial by media" with great toll on his personal and professional life. Jewell was eventually completely exonerated, and Eric Rudolph was later found to have been the bomber. In 2006, Governor Sonny Perdue publicly thanked Jewell on behalf of the State of Georgia for saving the lives of those at the Olympics. Jewell died on August 29, 2007 of heart failure from complications of diabetes at age 44.Ross Tolleson
Thorborn "Ross" Tolleson, Jr. (born April 26, 1956) is a former Republican state senator from Perry, Georgia closely aligned with former Governor Sonny Perdue. They are both from Houston County, Georgia. On October 30, 2015, Tolleson resigned his seat for health reasons.Tolleson is a former banker, insurance salesman, and tree farmer.Satilla River
The Satilla River rises in Ben Hill County, Georgia, near the town of Fitzgerald, and flows in a mostly easterly direction to the Atlantic Ocean. Along its approximately 235-mile (378 km) course are the cities of Waycross, Waynesville, and Woodbine. The Satilla drains almost 4,000 square miles (10,000 km2) of land, all of it in the coastal plain of southeastern Georgia. It has white sandbars and is the largest blackwater river situated entirely within Georgia.The river derives its name from a Spanish officer named Saint Illa, and over a period of time the name was merged to form the word Satilla. The name St. Illa River was in use alongside the name Satilla River in the early nineteenth century.The Satilla enters the Atlantic Ocean about 10 miles (16 km) south of Brunswick, at the 31st parallel north. Satilla River Marsh Island is one of the few places in Georgia for observing nesting sites of brown pelicans.In May 2010, the city of Waycross purchased the Bandalong Litter Trap and installed it in Tebeau Creek, a tributary of the Satilla River. The trap was invented in Australia, but is manufactured in the United States by Storm Water Systems. Although the city has maintained a good standing with the Environmental Protection Division, the city wanted to take action to reduce the amount of human generated trash entering the Satilla River and, ultimately, the Atlantic Ocean. Governor Sonny Perdue said, "Water is one of Georgia's most important and precious resources... the litter trap installed by Waycross is a model of stewardship for the state and the nation." The Satilla River litter trap is the first in Georgia and only the second in the nation.Standing Boy Creek State Park
Standing Boy Creek State Park is a 1,579 acres (6.39 km2) Georgia state park located in Columbus. The executive order creating the park was issued by then-Governor Sonny Perdue on January 21, 2004.United States Secretary of Agriculture
The United States Secretary of Agriculture is the head of the United States Department of Agriculture. The Secretary of Agriculture is former Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue. Perdue took office on April 25, 2017 after being confirmed by the U.S Senate 87-11. The position carries similar responsibilities to those of agriculture ministers in other governments.
The department includes several organizations. The 297,000 mi2 (770,000 km2) of national forests and grasslands are managed by the United States Forest Service. The safety of food produced and sold in the United States is ensured by the United States Food Safety and Inspection Service. The Food Stamp Program works with the states to provide food to low-income people. Advice for farmers and gardeners is provided by the United States Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service.William Bradley Bryant
William Bradley "Brad" Bryant was appointed superintendent of public schools for the U.S. state of Georgia by Gov. Sonny Perdue in 2010, filling the vacancy left by the resignation of Kathy Cox. He considered a bid to run for superintendent as an independent in the 2010 election (filing for partisan primaries having passed before his appointment), but he failed to collect enough valid petition signatures to win a place on the general election ballot.From 2003 until his appointment as superintendent, Bryant served as a member of the state Board of Education. Previously, he had served on the DeKalb County Board of Education for twelve years, including seven years as its Chair.
Bryant holds a Bachelor’s from Presbyterian College in South Carolina, a Masters in Business Administration from the University of Georgia and a Juris Doctorate from Mercer University.
Members of the Cabinet of the United States
a acting; c cabinet-level
See also: Political appointments of Donald Trump
* Ineligible to act as president