Worries About Our Ag Secretary’s Name

I’ve written about Sonny Perdue, confirmed and installed a week ago as U.S. Agriculture Secretary, quite a few times in new stories and social media posts.

Every single time, I’ve worried about misspelling his last name or giving his first name incorrectly. So far, to the best of my knowledge, I haven’t, even on some very tight deadlines.

But always there’s the danger of spelling his last name as Purdue, the same as the great land-grant university. And always there’s the danger of referring to him as Frank Perdue. The latter, of course, was the agribusinessman who revolutionized the poultry industry. (The two aren’t related, if you’re wondering.)

The possibility of messing up Sonny Perdue’s name is in no way disrepectful. He’s a tremendously successful guy. (And, of course, journalists are supposed to spell everyone’s name correctly, regardless of their station or position.) But I’ve written “Purdue University” many times, and Frank Perdue is a well-known name to me and others in ag. Old habits can die hard.

It’s Sonny Perdue. Sonny Perdue. Sonny Perdue. Sonny Perdue.

If you ever see anything else in a story or social media post I write, my bad and no excuses. But if it does happen, please realize it’s a mistake I tried very hard not to make.