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. Willis-Tampa

    Great – another free-for-all free trader who works for a law firm that encourages the off-shoring of American jobs.

    Not a good pick for American workers nor American manufacturing..

    The Washington IT Engineering community experienced the outrage of being fired from their jobs and replaced by low wage H1-B visa workers (because American companies "can't find enough American Engineers").

    Many of these workers were forced to train their replacements in order to receive a severance.

    I wonder what Gov. Locke thought of all of this going on under his watch.

    February 25, 2009 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  2. TexAnnie *-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*

    The inside the belt rumor mill in DC says that Senator Judd Gregg didn't withdraw because of any "irresolvable conflicts", but because his fellow Republicans coerced him and because he had some skeletons in his closet that he didn't want to become public. Obviously the wonderful Republican Senators would rather eat their own before they would allow him to go over to the other side. Pretty pathetic that they would be willing to sell their fellow Republican Sen. Gregg down the river in order to create some disharmony for Obama. But it doesn't surprise me.

    February 25, 2009 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  3. Obama 2.0

    The number three is a good number!

    February 25, 2009 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  4. Stay Active

    I hope he works out. From what I have heard he will be a great help with trade in China. I don't shop for much but essentials. I did have to go get some clothes for my job. Walking through the racks and racks of merchandise I looked at every label. I found only 2 items that were made in America, everthing else was made in China, Costa Rica, Vietnam, and every other country but ours. Even the designers use Asian countries to produce their merchandise. I bought the 2 items made in America and left proud that I "bought American".

    PS I also drive american made cars. Gotta love a Ford!

    February 25, 2009 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
  5. Kim

    I think republicans should go to hell already!

    February 25, 2009 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
  6. obama-mama

    Good choice Mr. President. Keep up the good work.

    February 25, 2009 11:07 am at 11:07 am |

    I Hope him at least is ok with the IRS. Why is it so hard for some politicians to pay taxes? Oh i forgot there is two sets of rules in this country. One for the richs and the politicians that violate the law and another one for the poor and the middle class.

    February 25, 2009 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
  8. virginia for obama

    @ 1/20/13. . . I'LL SAY IT! ANOTHER FINE PICK. . . HA!

    February 25, 2009 11:11 am at 11:11 am |
  9. AJ

    Do you suppose the Obama team has managed to vet this one adequately?

    February 25, 2009 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  10. texas teacher

    I think this appointee will make it through the vote. I am very tired of Republicans whining about everything the President does! Their failed plans have gotten us here though they are determined not to admit it!

    As well, I am sick of the tired stereotypical images from the 60's that absolutely show that the GOP are stuck in the times of Black Face insults! The cone hats and white sheets seem to believe that it is still acceptable to portray the president with images of monkeys and watermelons.

    Everytime they get called on these most horrible images that they feel are totally acceptable, they show us just how out of touch they are with the people of this country! Thank goodness that people all over this country are horrified and offending with these veiled insults! I am proud of the distance our country has come and sick of the way our Republicans are still in the past with these racial issues!

    February 25, 2009 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  11. Maggie from Virginia

    Cecil Fish,

    Let me help you out... The draw down in Iraq, along with the expiration of Bush's tax cuts for the rich, will help pay for his "presents', as you so eloquently stated.

    He also stated in his speech that he found areas to cut $2 trillion from the budget. Hope that helps.

    February 25, 2009 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  12. Viet Vet

    As a life long resident of Washington State I say NOOOOOOOOOOO!!

    February 25, 2009 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  13. texas teacher

    Let's give Obama a chance before we crucify him on the white house lawn.... it appears that if the goal of the GOP! Cartoons using monkeys and watermelons on the white house lawn do tend to give away their true feelings about our fine President. I am proud the American People are as appalled as Democrats! Goes to show just how out of touch the GOP is with the American People! These relics of the far past need to get out of the way and let Obama clean up their mess!

    February 25, 2009 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  14. obama-mama

    Tex Annie you're absolutely right. Once he withdrew I knew there was something up.....He looks like a snake anyway

    February 25, 2009 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  15. proud army navy mom

    Governor (fake democrat) Bredsen of TN is turning down portions of the stimulus package relating to unemployment.

    This is a war on poor people. Please call Gov Bredson @ 16157412001. He thinks he can get away with it because his term ends and he can't be re-elected.

    February 25, 2009 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  16. Sniffit

    @ peter

    Seriously...did Rush put you up to that? Us far left liberals are being tooken for granted and need to form our own party"? Wow.

    February 25, 2009 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  17. babs

    I am from Washington state! Watch for more American Jobs being sent over seas, he's known for it!

    February 25, 2009 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  18. Sarahs cheerleader

    Is he part of the skull and bones gang like the rest of the Yale squad?

    February 25, 2009 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  19. Bob the Observer

    I thought it was going to be John Locke, and he was going to get us all back to the island and set everything right.

    February 25, 2009 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  20. Lefty

    Speaking someone who both paid taxes in Washington, and also lived next door in Oregon, from what I hear Locke has a reputation for taking a balanced approach to difficult problems, and dealing with the rancorous politics of Washington State, where there the economy is boom-and-bust, and where party positions on public financing are highly polarized and entrenched camps make each other bitter. Given the difficulty of his situation, he has a rep as being one of the more effective and sensible examples from the Democratic party. On the whole, quite positive. Yes...we know all about your Kingdome roof, which was 24 years old ...and how it took 8 years to push through adequate repairs after panels started falling off of it back in 94, forcing the Mariners to play only their 'away' games and the SeaHawks to play their games at UofW. The teams were doing well at the time, with burgeoning support....so you didn't want the teams to have a home or the fans to have a safe roof over their heads? Don't blame Locke if the teams later went to pieces and some anti-sports folks said the roof investment was wasted. I know one thing: *I'd* hate to try to be governor of such a place! Locke has been tried and tested and has a positive reputation except among the most entrenched and polarized. The other Washington should be a snap for him.

    February 25, 2009 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  21. Blue is my favourite colour

    Jeff, couldn't agree with your more. Locke's second term was a disaster, and he did more to encourage outsourcing then anyone (Microsoft). He is a terrible choice. His connections to China aren't that strong, as he was adopted by an American family. He isn't going to be helpful in that regard, and he wasn't helpful when he was in Washington.

    He has made stupid choices (Kingdome), and has completely ignored the will of the taxpayers in WA. He is a loser and I hope the vetters find something big that will take him out of the running. Apparently, stupidity isn't enough of a disqualifiyer.....

    February 25, 2009 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  22. AVEE capitalcityVA

    If this nominee doesn't work out, I'll be glad to take the job. My first business of commerce would be to take the TARP money back from all the banks that received funds.

    February 25, 2009 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  23. cheryl brooks from cali

    Well, things certainly will be in tip top shape!!! Welcome Aboard!!!!!!

    February 25, 2009 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  24. Gary

    Did he pay his taxes? Is he on our side or Chinese side? Another addition to Barack's big Government.

    February 25, 2009 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  25. knock knock RJ

    Maybe we should sell the "Hope Diamond" and see if this curse will lift.Im sure we could find some other morons to buy it.The American people own it and have it kept at the Smithsonian ever since.Im not really superstitious but why not be on the side of caution,nothing else is working.

    February 25, 2009 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
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