CLEVELAND — As President-elect Joe Biden continues the process of filling out his cabinet there is the strong possibility that he could have his eye on Northeast Ohio Congresswoman Marcia Fudge for the post of Secretary of Agriculture.
"Now it may seem strange to a lot of people,” said News 5 Political Analyst Tom Sutton of Baldwin Wallace University, “that someone representing a largely urban and suburban district would be appointed to the Department of Agriculture as the Secretary but we have to remember is this is also the department that handles the SNAP program also known as food stamps."
Fudge is chair of the House Agriculture Subcommittee on Nutrition. “Let's remember that Cleveland, part of which Marcia Fudge represents as Congresswoman is one of the five poorest cities in the country, and in that poverty, we have a lot of people relying on the SNAP program. There's also a lot of working poor, there's a lot of people affected by the COVID crisis who've been relying on that as well."
Fudge is reported to be a finalist for the post along with former South Dakota Senator Heidi Heitkamp. The Congresswoman elected in 2008 following the death of the late Congresswoman Stephanie Tubbs Jones enjoys the backing of progressives and quite possibly the most influential person in the Biden orbit these days South Carolina Congressman James Clyburn.
“James Clyburn, at least in my viewpoint, is the kingmaker who turned the fortunes of Joe Biden around in the South Carolina primary leading to clinching the nomination and now being President-elect,” Sutton said. “So if James Clyburn is recommending Congresswoman Marcia Fudge as an appointee potentially for the Department of Agriculture I think there's only one answer to that question and the answer is yes.”
Ohio is one of the nation’s biggest farm states, the Ohio Farm Bureau told News 5 in a statement: "Through her many years on the House Ag Committee, Ohio Farm Bureau has enjoyed a great working relationship with Representative Fudge. As she is considering the role of Secretary of USDA, we look forward to hearing her ideas and vision for farmers in Ohio."
For all of its political clout, Ohio has had very few members of White House cabinets over the last half century. Sutton says could mean a lot for Ohio.
"Overall every constituency in Ohio benefits from having one of Ohio's own as a potential Secretary of Agriculture,” he said.
Historically the position is one of the later ones filled. President-elect Barack Obama did so on December 17, 2008, with his nomination of Tom Vilsack and for President-elect Donald Trump it was his very last cabinet position filled two days prior to his inauguration on January 18, 2017, when he tapped Sonny Perdue for the post.