February 25th, 2009
09:25 AM ET
6 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. Lynn

    Proud America: You have the wrong vetting ...that was McCain selecting Palin!! ...or the GOP selecting Jindal...both of those worked out swell!!

    February 25, 2009 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  2. Chris - Denver

    I asked my friend if he thought the latest designee for Commerce Secretary would make it through confirmation, and he said that it was a Locke.

    February 25, 2009 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  3. tim

    Geez people... give the man a break.

    He's not the Messiah and he can't just snap his fingers and make everything okay again. What do you all expect from him?

    All the media does is completely tears these people's lives apart and finds when they didn't pay taxes on a nanny in 1974 and they expect them to be fired. Do you haters have any skeletons in the closet? The people he nominated in the beginning are good at what they do.... lead and get things done. I still can't believe that Richardson is out.... what a drag. He would have been awesome. So would Edwards... if he wasn't toxic now.

    What, he's been in office a month and has already passed an economy bill through and has already made a big time speech.

    Buncha haters if you ask me. Lay off the Hator-ade, people! Give him a chance.

    February 25, 2009 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  4. arithmetic is liberal

    Now let's play... Wheel of... Scandal!

    Will our new Commerce Secretary...

    1. Be a tax and/or draft dodger?
    2. Have connections to Jack Abramoff?
    3. Be caught on tape eating a live baby?

    If you can't laugh at yourself...

    February 25, 2009 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  5. Allan Jones has too much free time

    Allan Jones - don't you think we need to focus on the serious issues facing America, like the economy, the deficit and two wars? Gov. Locke will be the Commerce Secretary. Get over it.

    February 25, 2009 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  6. KIM

    I am excited to see the diversity I see in Obama cabinet, not just a few tokens as seen in the administrations before. I think this is the start of a new beginning.

    February 25, 2009 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  7. rick in texas

    texannie....Have you thought that the reason that Gregg withdrew his name might just be because after he was nominated the White House let it be known that they would oversee the census, which is the major responsibility of the Commerce department. Sounds like he was nominated as a token republican but more importantly to open up the senate seat in New Hampshire. Anybody with half a brain can see that and Gregg was being polite to the little o when he accepted the responsibility.

    February 25, 2009 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  8. Dave - Columbus

    I will stick with my current theory... Keep appointing more and more people to these positions and they will all have to pay the taxes that they "conveniently" forgot about. I think the running average of tax evasion with these people is somewhere north of $100,000 each. I think that is Obama's plan to reduce the deficit.

    February 25, 2009 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
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