Huelskamp says he's interested in becoming Trump's Ag secretary

By Philip Brasher

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WASHINGTON, Nov. 16, 2016 - Kansas Rep. Tim Huelskamp expressed interest in becoming agriculture secretary in the Trump administration and said he has talked to “people in the room” with the transition. 

Huelskamp, one of the most conservative House GOP members, lost the Republican primary this year after an array of farm groups came out in favor of challenger Roger Marshall, a physician who went on to win the general election. 

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Huelskamp's name has not come up in speculation about the USDA position, but during a Capitol Hill forum on Wednesday a reporter with Breitbart News asked Huelskamp “to share with us any discussions you're had about becoming agriculture secretary.” The executive chairman of Breitbart, Stephen Bannon, was CEO of Donald Trump's campaign and recently named to be his chief strategist in the White House. 

Huelskamp said he couldn't comment on the Breitbart question, but later he told Agri-Pulse that “many, many people” have been talking to him about the job. 

“People who are in the room have been talking to me. If you're looking to be an outsider I would be quite a pick to fit that. We need to drain the swamp. I certainly am not part of that,” Huelskamp said, referring to Trump's pledge to keep special interests out of his administration. He said he hadn't talked to Trump personally.

He also noted that the agriculture secretary during most of the Clinton administration was Dan Glickman, a former Kansas Democratic congressman who had been voted out of office before he went to USDA. “I wouldn't be the first Kansas ag secretary,” Huelskamp said. 

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House Agriculture Chairman Mike Conaway, R-Texas, has said that Trump has given Pence the lead role in agriculture policy and would have a say on who is selected as secretary. 

Asked about Pence's role, Huelskamp said, “I have not heard who's handling ag. My guess is that (selecting an agriculture secretary) is not the first priority.”

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