Obama names former Washington governor to be Commerce secretary

President Obama nominated former Washington Gov. Gary Locke Feb. 25 to be U.S. Commerce secretary, his third choice for the job.

The nomination is subject to confirmation by the Senate.

The Commerce Department includes NOAA Fisheries, which is responsible for stewardship of marine resources, including how they are affected by hydroelectric projects.

As governor, Locke negotiated and signed a Washington State-Canada salmon treaty after negotiations between the U.S. State Department and Canada reached an impasse on protecting wild salmon runs. He also conceived and launched the West Coast Governors’ Initiative on Climate Change, and launched public and private initiatives to reduce dependence on fossil fuels and increase energy conservation.

Locke is a partner in the Seattle office of international law firm Davis Wright Tremaine, where he has specialized in China, energy, and government relations issues. He earned a bachelor’s degree in political science from Yale University and a law degree from Boston University.

Locke was elected Washington’s 21st governor in 1996, becoming the first Chinese-American governor in U.S. history. During two terms he led eight trade missions to China and opened a state trade office in Guangzhou.

The Commerce secretary is seen as the voice of the U.S. business community in the White House.

“Gary will be a trusted voice in my cabinet, a tireless advocate for our economic competitiveness, and an influential ambassador for American industry who will help us do everything we can — especially now — to promote it around the world,” Obama said.

Obama named Locke after his two earlier picks — New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson and Sen. Judd Gregg, R-N.H. — accepted the nomination but later withdrew. (HNN 1/5/09)


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