Friday, April 20 , 2018, 5:11 pm | Fair 60º


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Santa Maria’s Abel Maldonado Bypassed by Trump for Agriculture Secretary

Santa Maria farmer and former California lieutenant governor Abel Maldonado did not get tapped to lead the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Instead of selecting Maldonado, President-elect Donald Trump picked former Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue for the job.

Shortly after the reports of Perdue’s pick, Maldonado responded on social media, thanking Trump and his senior staff for the chance to interview and be considered. 

“The process was honorable, thorough and transparent, America can rest assured that the USDA will be in good hands with Governor Sonny Perdue,” Maldonado wrote on Facebook and Twitter accounts.

Maldonado added that he looks forward to working with the new ag secretary “on anything he may need.

Bypassing Maldonado means the Trump administration cabinet will lack any Latinos. 

On Jan. 6 the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials, NALEO, called for Trump to nominate Maldonado.

The U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce also hoped Maldonado would be chosen.

"He grew up as a migrant farm worker; he‘s picked the crops; he ran a family operation that depended on agriculture,” Javier Palomarez, chairman of the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, told Politico. “No one has come close to that kind of experience.”

In late December, Maldonado traveled to Trump’s Florida home, Mar-a-Lago, to discuss the cabinet job.

“Enjoying a beautiful bottle of Trump Sparking Wine,”  Maldonado tweeted on Tuesday along with the photo and including Trump’s signature hashtag #MAGA for Make America Great Again.

He also reserved praise for the Trump hotel in another Twitter post Tuesday. 

Maldonado is a former Santa Maria councilman and mayor who served at the state level as an assemblyman and senator before being named the state’s 48th lieutenant governor.

Santa Maria's community youth center bears Maldonado's name.

He has experience running the family strawberry and row-crop farming business, and more recently entered the winemaking business with his daughter by launching Runway Vineyards in the Santa Maria Valley appellation.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture — USDA for short — is made up of 29 agencies and offices with nearly 100,000 employees at more than 4,500 locations across the country and abroad. 

Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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