February 25th, 2009
09:25 AM ET
9 years ago

Obama to name Locke as Commerce Department chief

Former Washington Gov. Gary Locke will be the third person President Obama has named to head the Commerce Department.

Former Washington Gov. Gary Locke will be the third person President Obama has named to head the Commerce Department.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - President Barack Obama will announce Wednesday morning that former Washington Gov. Gary Locke is his nominee for commerce secretary, two senior administration officials told CNN.

Locke, 57, was the country's first Chinese-American governor, elected to lead Washington in 1996 and re-elected in 2000.

Prior to becoming governor, he served five terms in the Washington state House of Representatives and one term as King County executive. He was chairman of the House Appropriations Committee from 1989 to 1994.

A lawyer, Locke is currently in private practice with Davis Wright Tremaine in the national firm's Seattle, Washington, office.

Locke would be Obama's third choice to be commerce secretary. His most recent pick, Republican Sen. Judd Gregg of New Hampshire, cited "irresolvable conflicts" with the administration over the economic recovery bill when he withdrew his name from consideration on February 12.

New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson bowed out on January 5, citing the distraction of a federal investigation into ties to a company that has done business with his state. Democratic officials told CNN the investigation involves a California company that won municipal bond business in New Mexico after contributing money to various Richardson causes.

Richardson denies any wrongdoing.

Another Obama nominee - former Sen. Tom Daschle of South Dakota, who was nominated to be secretary of health and human services - withdrew on February 3 after controversy erupted over his tax records and questions over his work in a field that some consider lobbying.

The former Senate majority leader apologized for a series of errors that included failing to report $15,000 in charitable donations, unreported car service and more than $80,000 in unreported income from consulting. He filed amended tax returns and paid more than $140,000 in back taxes and interest for 2005-2007.

- CNN's Ed Henry and Suzanne Malveaux contributed to this report.

Filed under: Gary Locke • Popular Posts • President Obama
soundoff (83 Responses)
  1. Kate,Saratoga Springs, New York

    I wanted to add my comment about the nomination for HHS Secretary. President Obama should give serious consideration to nominating Dr. Howard Dean to that post. I think he would bring enormous experience and medical knowledge to this position.

    Realize that the President and Dr. Dean may not have seen eye to eye in the past, however, if Obama can work with the republicans, and some of the other cabinet members who have strong opinions and minds he should be able to get along with Howard Dean.

    February 25, 2009 09:59 am at 9:59 am |
  2. Jeff

    Many Washington State residents are probably aghast at this choice. The debacle of Locke's second term as governor should have been enough to get him out of politics forever. Locke overturned voters in their decision to put more money into schools and education while at the same time going a step further and cutting into those budgets as they were, as well as cutting certain healthcare benefits, is part of his legacy. Seattle taxpayers are still paying for the Kingdome roof that Locke wanted replaced and insured for tens of millions of dollars...only to see the Kingdome torn down shortly thereafter. Locke is a terrible choice!

    February 25, 2009 10:02 am at 10:02 am |
  3. Anonymous

    The entire package needs to be thorougly disected and analyzed before it goes into acceptance as the absolute cure for the mess of selling out to greed and criminals going unpunished for stealing. As for Guantonamo Bay, that would be a good place for Maddof and his wife, and all the other con artist that have bankrupted so many people in this country.

    February 25, 2009 10:02 am at 10:02 am |
  4. Proud American


    The majority of posts allowed, were heavliy biased towards Obama,and by the sheer content of the message shows that the vast amount of his supporters haven't a clue about the economy or the world....still sucking down the obama-aid...

    February 25, 2009 10:02 am at 10:02 am |
  5. John

    They should just take a lesson from the Republicans and lie and deny and say to bad to every objection. Bush, Craig, Libbey, Chenney, etc...... Just do whatever you want and pretend it never happened.

    February 25, 2009 10:08 am at 10:08 am |
  6. Inclusive Administration

    It is refreshing that Obama has built his cabinet with a diverse team that truly looks like America. And he has done it with ease instead of the foot dragging and excuses that other leaders in this society give when filling high level positions.

    One need only look at the Republican Convention and the Democratic Convention to see the differences in who makes up the parties and who they appeal to.

    February 25, 2009 10:13 am at 10:13 am |
  7. Scott, Tucson

    I guess Obama was running out of viable choices and settled for Locke

    February 25, 2009 10:15 am at 10:15 am |
  8. Jean

    Let's see – First Obama is FDR, then Lincoln, now Regan.

    Obama should be Obama.

    It is a scary thing when the President does not know who he is.

    February 25, 2009 10:17 am at 10:17 am |
  9. Finch in CA

    CNN has a poll on its homepage for rating Obama's speech last night. I encourage all to have a look at the poll that matters at this point, the market's performance today.

    February 25, 2009 10:17 am at 10:17 am |
  10. Rick McDaniel

    So far, the track record is not too good. We shall see if more care has been taken, in the selection process, this time.

    February 25, 2009 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  11. Andy J, Upstate NY

    Not going to mention Locke's connection to disgraced DNC fund raiser John Huang?

    Not to mention this guy has been under investigation several times for funny money funds.

    Another dud, courtesy of Obama.

    Thanks dude.

    February 25, 2009 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  12. Marc in Virginia

    Another first!

    February 25, 2009 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  13. Felly

    Great choice with diversity and a change we can believe in.

    February 25, 2009 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  14. mary

    Somebody calling him/her-self "Kathy" has posted comments on every single article on the Ticker. And these are all negative comments. My advice to this person: grow up! If you were that informed you would have run for president. And btw, what do you do for a living? get off your blessed assurance and find something meaningful to do!

    February 25, 2009 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  15. Sniffit

    blah blah blah back taxes blah blah Obama nominees blah political circus blah blah I married my sister blah blah tax cuts blah blah blah

    February 25, 2009 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  16. cheryl

    That little girl's school could have been any number of schools here in Mo. And it donsen't matter if the communitiy is large or small.

    February 25, 2009 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  17. Smart Americans

    Its time to end tax breaks for companies who outsource Amerrican jobs!!!!!

    February 25, 2009 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  18. David in Roslyn

    Gary is a "good guy". We have had some winners and some losers here in Washington. Among the losers is our current Governor, who is a power hungry unethical dyed in the wool tax and spend democrat. Gary however did well by us and I think he will do well for this country. He is a level headed guy, not a miracle man but a dedicated hard worker.

    February 25, 2009 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  19. Allen Morgan

    This Financial mess was allowed to happen due to our corporate
    congress/government. After all there is no money in working for
    the American people and i might add the two party system
    is in name only, it is broken. First there should be a constitutional
    amendment declaring all companies as entities with no voice in
    government getting our do nothing congress back working for the

    February 25, 2009 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  20. Benjamin

    Great choice, since he is nice and capable.

    February 25, 2009 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  21. Bankrupt in USA

    The former Washington governor may have a lock on the nomination, but why do we need a Commerce department? I thought proviate-sector jobs were created by the private sector instead of by government beaurocrats.

    February 25, 2009 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  22. Franky

    Uh-OH, guess what? You didn't think I wasn't gonna talk about the GOP, right? I just finished getting out of the shower, had my workout, now time for business...

    Once after Gov Jindal finished the response of the GOP, no more than 5 minutes we got a text from sweet home Loui...and I'm gonna tell you what they text us and I quote..."We believe they force his hand. We'll holla at you early in the morning." I gotta say GOP, not good news...

    They did holla at us in the morning but can't day nothing else but some people over there are coming over here in a couple days and all I'm gonna say is if we catch you before the media, news, papers, etc, we will come after you. And don't say I didn't warn you...but anyway, who's in a good mood today? LOL!!!

    February 25, 2009 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  23. Allan Jones

    Already under investigation by the Public Disclosure Commission for mishandling cash contributions, Gov. Gary Locke’s gubernatorial campaign must now contend with new revelations concerning two trips to a Buddhist temple last summer where campaign dollars changed hands.

    On two separate occasions, Locke visited the Ling Shen Ching Tze Temple in Redmond at the invitation of the temple’s founder, Grand Master Sheng-Yen Lu. Grand Master Lu, his wife, his son and several people self-described as church administrators and priests gave Locke about $13,100 in contributions.

    Of the known temple donors identified by the Locke campaign, five gave $1,000 each on July 22, 1996. Two priests gave $1,000 and $1,100 respectively on Aug. 8, 1996. Three other temple adherents – Lin Wan Liu of Redmond, and Moon Chuen Lo and Shek Shuk Yee Lo of Renton – also gave $1,000 contributions on Aug. 8.

    Internal campaign records show that two other temple disciples donated $2,000 and $1,000 respectively on other dates.

    The money involved is considerably less than the amount connected to Vice President Al Gore’s fund-raiser at an unrelated Southern California Buddhist temple last spring (about $45,000). But Locke’s visits raise intriguing questions about whether similar, if smaller-scale, improprieties involving monks and nuns took place in our own backyard:

    – Did the temple violate federal tax law?

    February 25, 2009 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  24. xargaw

    Good Governor, good on international trade, really decent guy.

    February 25, 2009 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  25. peter

    This is another far center appointment,when is you people going to wakeup,its obvious Obama do not like liberal democrats like Pelosi,Howard Dean and anyoneelse who governs to the left,he do not have one liberal in his cabinet,but 70% of his vote came from the far left,lastnight speech didnot talk about any programs that would help the poor,not everyone can go to college Mr President,its obvious to me that Obama wants to get rid of all the liberal democrats in the party,to replace them with far right moderates like the woman who was appointed to Hillary Clinton seat in Newyork,thats why the whitehouse is not helping Al franken down in Minnesota,because they dont want him in the senate because hes to liberal for them,Obama is taking the liberal vote for granted he feels as long as he gives poor people a few bucks in extra food stamps that would keep them happy but am not going to be tooken for granted any longer,its time for us liberals to form our own party,its time to dump the party of wanna be republicans like obama in all of his stooges.

    February 25, 2009 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
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