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Former Georgia governor leading candidate for Trump's ag secretary, reports say

BISMARCK--According to multiple media reports, the front-runner for Donald Trump's agriculture secretary is former Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue. The news brings some clarity to the future of a Cabinet position that was once thought a possibility for...

BISMARCK-According to multiple media reports, the front-runner for Donald Trump's agriculture secretary is former Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue.

The news brings some clarity to the future of a Cabinet position that was once thought a possibility for Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., whose face-to-face meeting with the president-elect brought speculation about the possibility last month.

In recent weeks, though, the odds that Heitkamp might take an administration post have appeared to decrease, given her comments shortly before Christmas that she would "likely" stay in the Senate.

"I'm not saying 'never, never,' but I will tell you that I'm very, very honored to serve the people of North Dakota, and I hope that no matter what I do, that will always be my first priority," she told her radio host brother Joel Heitkamp while appearing on his show.

A member of Heitkamp's staff did not comment when asked about the state of the agriculture secretary nomination.

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Perdue, 70, was the Republican governor of Georgia from 2003 to 2011 and founded global trading firm Perdue Partners shortly afterwards.

Perdue's position in the race for the Cabinet post helps clarify the future of North Dakota politics. In the months since Trump was elected, both Heitkamp and Rep. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., have been floated as potential Cabinet picks, leading to speculation about potential open seats in the state that could occur if they left Congress.

However, Cramer-despite also meeting with Trump last month-appears to have been passed over for energy secretary in favor of former Texas Gov. Rick Perry.

"It was an honor to be considered for this position, and I trust the judgement of President-elect Trump as he assembles a world-class Cabinet," Cramer said last month.

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