WASHINGTON — 

U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue wants to relocate the headquarters of two research divisions of his department out of Washington, and two Georgia communities — Athens and Griffin — are among the many competing for the prize.

Leaders in dozens of states covet the headquarters of the Economic Research Service and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture for their 600-plus high-paying jobs and expected spinoff investments from vendors. Some observers think, because Perdue was governor of Georgia, the two Peach State cities have an inside track against the 66 other locations still in contention.

But standing in the way is U.S. Rep. Sanford Bishop, D-Albany, one of Perdue’s longtime allies who holds a key post in the new Democratic-controlled House.

The political

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