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Sonny Perdue
SSP Official Portrait.jpg
31st United States Secretary of Agriculture
In office
April 25, 2017 – January 20, 2021
President Donald Trump
Deputy Stephen Censky
Preceded by Tom Vilsack
Succeeded by Tom Vilsack (nominee)
81st Governor of Georgia
In office
January 13, 2003 – January 10, 2011
Lieutenant Mark Taylor
Casey Cagle
Preceded by Roy Barnes
Succeeded by Nathan Deal
Member of the Georgia Senate
from the 18th district
In office
January 9, 1991 – January 9, 2002
Preceded by Ed Barker
Succeeded by Ross Tolleson
Personal details
George Ervin Perdue III

(1946-12-20) December 20, 1946 (age 75)
Perry, Georgia, U.S.
Political party Democratic (Before 1998)
Republican (1998–present)
Spouse(s) Mary Ruff
Education University of Georgia (BS, DVM)
Signature Sonny Perdue signature.svg
Military service
Allegiance  United States
Branch/service Flag of the United States Air Force United States Air Force
Years of service 1971–1974
Rank US military captain's rank.gif Captain

George Ervin "Sonny" Perdue III (born December 20, 1946) is an American politician. He was the 31st United States Secretary of Agriculture from April 25, 2017 to January 20, 2021. He was the 81st Governor of Georgia from 2003 to 2011. In January 2003, he became the first Republican Governor of Georgia since Reconstruction.

Perdue serves on the Governors’ Council of the Bipartisan Policy Center in Washington, D.C..

On January 18, 2017, incoming U.S. President Donald Trump announced that he would nominate Perdue to be United States Secretary of Agriculture. His nomination was sent to the Senate on March 9, 2017. He was approved by the United States senate with a vote of 87-11 on April 24, 2017.

Early life

Perdue was born in Perry, Georgia. He is the son of Ophie Viola (Holt), a teacher, and George Ervin Perdue Jr., a farmer. The Perdue family owned slaves in Georgia during the 19th century.

Perdue played quarterback at Warner Robins High School. He studied at the University of Georgia.

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 businesses.

Perdue served in the U.S. Air Force. He became a captain before leaving the military.

Georgia State Senator (1991–2002)

After working as a member of the Houston County Planning & Zoning Commission in the 1980s, Perdue ran 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 in 1991, 1994, and 1996. He was his party's leader in the Senate, from 1994 to 1997 and president pro tempore.

Perdue changed party from Democrat to Republican in 1998 and was re-elected to the Senate as a Republican. He also won re-election in 2000.

Governor of Georgia (2003–2011)

In December 2001, Perdue resigned as State Senator so he could run for the office of Governor. 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.

As governor, Perdue led reforms designed to cut waste in government, most notably the sale of surplus vehicles and real estate. He helped 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. Perdue also created additional opportunities for charter schools and private schools. In 2006, Perdue signed a law that gave Georgia "some of the nation's toughest measures against illegal immigration".

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.

2007 prayer for rain

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 spoke to 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".

United States Secretary of Agriculture (2017–2021)

On January 2, 2017, it was reported that Perdue had become President-elect Donald Trump's leading contender for the nomination to be Secretary of Agriculture in his incoming administration. On January 18, 2017, senior Trump transition officials announced that Perdue would be his nominee Secretary of Agriculture.

The Senate committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry approved his nomination on March 30, with a 19-1 vote. Senator David Perdue (R-GA) abstained, as he is the nominee's first cousin.

Perdue 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 April 24, 2017, Perdue's nomination was confirmed by the United States Senate with a 87-11 vote. He was sworn-in by Supreme Court Associate Justice Clarence Thomas the next day.

Perdue was chosen Designated survivor for the 2018 State of the Union Address.

Personal life

Perdue and his wife, Mary (nee 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.

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