President-elect Donald Trump has offered the interior secretary position to Montana’s freshman Rep. Ryan Zinke, an ex-Navy Seal commander, according to two transition officials and someone familiar with the offer. The sources said Zinke has yet to accept and has given no indication as to which way he is leaning. But Zinke is also being discussed by prominent Washington Republicans as a possible 2018 candidate for the Montana Senate seat now held by Democrat Sen. Jon Tester. Zinke’s office declined to comment, and Trump’s transition team did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Zinke was an early Trump supporter.
The Big Sky state Republican threw his weight behind the controversial nominee-turned-commander-in-chief in late May and stuck by him despite numerous Democratic attacks for doing so. He also campaigned with him, and his wife, Lola, is a member of the transition team dealing with veterans issues. The offer comes just days after multiple news outlets reported that No. 4 House Republican Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.) was the favorite to win the position. But multiple top Trump aides weren’t sold on the Washington Republican and encouraged Trump to broaden his search. She, Zinke and Rep. Raul Labrador (R-Idaho) all interviewed for the job Monday. The Trump team called Zinke last Thursday, and asked him to come in for the interview. He was traveling by plane on Tuesday evening, but is expected to accept Trump's offer when he lands.