Obama to Likely Tap Locke for Commerce

Ex-Wash. governor will be his third pick for the post
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Feb 23, 2009 5:38 PM CST
In this April 19, 2006 picture, former Wash. Gov. Gary Locke, left, toasts Chinese President Hu Jintao, right, during Hu's visit to the Seattle area.   (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, File)
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(Newser) – President Obama's likely third pick for Commerce secretary is former Washington Gov. Gary Locke, a senior administration official said today. Locke, a Democrat, was the nation's first Chinese-American governor when he served two terms in the Washington statehouse from 1997 to 2005. Since leaving office, he's been working for a Seattle-based law firm on issues involving China, energy, and governmental relations, the AP reports.

At the firm, Locke supports global engagement as a way to improve China's human rights record and deal with intellectual piracy. He lists among his accomplishments as governor a package of tax breaks that persuaded Boeing to assemble its new 787 jetliner near Seattle, and expanded transportation and construction budgets. Locke would follow Obama's earlier choices for the commerce post, Sen. Judd Gregg and New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, both of whom backed out.