Wed, Feb 25, 2009 - Page 7 News List

Gary Locke tipped to be Commerce Department chief


US President Barack Obama’s troubled search for a commerce secretary may soon be over, as former Washington governor Gary Locke, the US’ first Chinese-American governor, is tipped to take the post. Locke has been described by a senior US official as the “likely” candidate for the job.

The Obama administration will hope it is third time lucky to fill the trade post after two candidates stepped aside amid controversy.

Obama originally nominated New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson for the post but he was forced to withdraw over an inquiry into contracting orders in his home state.

Republican Senator Judd Gregg withdrew less than a week after being selected, citing “irresolvable conflicts” with the new administration.

If confirmed, Locke, a Democrat, would be the third Asian-American in Obama’s Cabinet after the selection of Steven Chu as Energy secretary and Eric Shinseki at Veterans’ Affairs.

“He would make an outstanding secretary of Commerce,” said Representative Norm Dicks, a fellow Democrat from Washington.

While governor he became known for boosting trade with China and Taiwan. He is also a member of the Committee of 100, a group of prominent Chinese-Americans who promote links between the US and “greater China.”

He is currently a partner at the Davis, Wright, Tremaine law firm.

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