Politics & Government

Rep. Bishop on short list for Secretary of Agriculture

Louie Perry, a South Georgia farmer, has heard the rumblings.

U.S. Rep. Sanford Bishop, a Democrat with strong ties to Columbus and recently elected to his ninth term in Congress, reportedly is under consideration to become Secretary of Agriculture in the Barack Obama administration.

Perry is a fifth-generation peanut, cotton, corn and cattle farmer from just south of Moultrie.

When asked about Bishop, Perry shares a story.

“I tell you the same thing I told that reporter from The New York Times who called me about three years ago,” said Perry, 69. “What you fellows are really asking me is why some redneck from South Georgia is supporting a former Civil Rights attorney. My daddy always told me you help the ones who help you.”

In 16 years in Congress, Bishop has endeared himself to farmers like Perry. Raised a city kid in Mobile, Ala., Bishop has fought for farmers’ subsidies from his position on the powerful House Appropriations Committee.

Now, Bishop’s is one of three names being mentioned prominently for the nation’s top agriculture job. The others are Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius and Rep. John Salazar of Colorado. Both, like Bishop, are Democrats.

Bishop, 61, said he would be honored to serve, but that he has not been contacted by Obama’s transition team. An appointment could come as early as this week, according to some published reports.