Maine Rep. Chellie Pingree stands outside her office on the Portland waterfront. Credit: Troy R. Bennett / BDN

U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree is being touted by some as a future Cabinet secretary in President-elect Joe Biden’s administration.

Two of the most influential groups of the progressive movement — the Sunrise Movement and Justice Democrats — are calling for Biden to appoint the 1st District Democrat to be U.S. secretary of agriculture, according to The New York Times.

Pingree is an organic farmer and member of the House Agriculture Committee. She has pushed agriculture policy bills while in the House, including recent bills that would reduce greenhouse gas emissions from farming and support small meat processors.

If appointed, Pingree would be the first agriculture secretary from Maine and the first Cabinet secretary from Maine since former Republican U.S. Sen. William Cohen served as President Bill Clinton’s defense secretary from 1997 to 2001.

Pingree is far from the only contender for the job: other names floated include former North Dakota Democratic U.S. Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, as well as fellow U.S. Reps. Marcia Fudge, D-Ohio, and Cheri Bustos, D-Illinois.

Pingree — the third woman elected to the U.S. House in Maine — has represented the 1st District since 2009.

It is perhaps unsurprising that progressive movements are endorsing Pingree, a member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus. ProgressivePunch, which scores members of Congress on their support for progressive policies, said she had been the 38th most progressive member of the House over her career.

Many on the left also know Pingree from her leadership of Common Cause, a watchdog group that fights for reforms to the political system, including decreasing the power of financial interests in politics. Pingree led the group from 2003 to 2007.

Pingree easily defeated her Republican opponent Jay Allen in her Nov. 3 reelection bid with nearly 62 percent of the vote. While she is set to be sworn in for a seventh term in January, Gov. Janet Mills would be required to call a special election to fill the seat “as soon as reasonably possible” if Pingree were nominated for a Cabinet post.

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