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Former Wash. Gov. Gary Locke Likely To Commerce



Former Washington governor Gary Locke, shown here in Jan. 2007, is expected to be named this week as President Obama's choice to head Commerce. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, File)

Former Washington State Gov. Gary Locke is the likely pick to be commerce secretary, according to several senior White House officials.

Locke is the third nominee put forth by President Obama to head the Commerce Department. New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson (D) stepped aside after allegations of pay-to-play politics involving his administration cropped up, while New Hampshire Sen. Judd Gregg (R) removed himself from consideration after deciding his ideological differences with the administration were too great to overcome.

Locke, a Democrat, spent eight years as the governor of Washington State -- from 1996 until 2004 -- and before that served stints as the chief executive in King County (Seattle) and in the Washington state House.

When he was elected in 1995 Locke became the first -- and to date the only -- Chinese American to serve as the governor of a state.

Locke's appeal to the White House was threefold, according to those briefed on the decision. First, he built a solid record as governor -- including overseeing the rapid growth of the Washington economy. Second, he is well known as a strait-laced politician who has never been weighed down with ethical baggage. Third, he furthers Obama's commitment to diversity as the third Asian American in the Cabinet.

During the 2008 presidential primary season, Locke was the co-chair of then Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's presidential campaign and is personal friends with both Clinton and her husband -- former president Bill Clinton.

Obama swamped Clinton in Washington and, after she left the race, Locke threw his support to Obama.

Locke would be the third resident of the Evergreen State named to the Obama administration, following deputy HUD secretary-nominee Ron Sims and Seattle City Police Chief Gil Kerlikowske who reportedly has been tapped to serve as "drug czar."

Should he win confirmation Locke faces several challenges at Commerce, including the upcoming decennial census, the operation of which proved to be a key stumbling block for Gregg.

Washington Post staff writer Ed O'Keefe contributed to this report.

By Chris Cillizza  |  February 23, 2009; 5:19 PM ET
Categories:  White House  
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Comments

Locke stinks. He did nothing good for our state. If you want more wonderful items sent over from China he's your man. Oh, wait, he'll just run over and pick them up for you; he loves to visit China. We can help supply Mona's brother with better and more lucrative positions in DC instead of Washington State; at least it won't come directly out of our state's budget. If you want it mandatory for most state employees to be union, he's your man - who needs choice? If you want to keep the same wage you made for 6 years he's your man. If you want someone to be strong during a crisis - look elsewhere.

Posted by: julieforBarack | February 25, 2009 12:28 PM | Report abuse

mibrooks27, you apparently don't listen very well. I said I was for fair trade, not free trade. It's over-the-top commentators like you that give fair traders or even anti-traders a bad name.

The 17% extra income figure I mentioned comes from the US Dept of Commerce as well as independent researchers. Trade is good for every economy and adds wealth as long as it's fair trade. Hopefully Locke will put some juice into our export promotion efforts and stop starving the Commerce Dept like the Republicans did.

Posted by: jay_casey | February 24, 2009 8:34 PM | Report abuse

As I related when he picked Joe Biden...
'...it was b/c he had to pick somebody...'

Posted by: newbeeboy | February 24, 2009 4:12 PM | Report abuse

President Barack Obama, to Mr. McCain quote...
"You know, he and I had very good debates about these issue's,"Obama said- an understatement to be sure and one that drew laughter. He also praised the Arizona senator as "extraordinary consistant and sincere about these issue's.

McCain, quote....
"Well, thank you, Mr. President," McCain said and quickly delved into the issue of cost overuns on large government buys. "Your helicopter is now going to cost as much as Air Force One."

President Barack Obama, reminded Mr. McCain, quote...
"The helicopter I have now seems perfectly adequate to me," Obama said wryly, inciting more laughter. "Of course, I've never had a helicopter before. So, you know, maybe I've been deprived and didn't know it."
______________________________________
RICHARD PRYOR....EAT YOUR HEART OUT!

NO...RICHARD PRYOR LAUGHING HIS BUTTE OFF!
_______________________________________

Eric Cantor's wife's Job/Bank a "Manager of Bank"...her banking firm applied and accepted over $256 million dollars of Stimulus money.

SHAME ON YOU ERIC CANTOR....THOSE DARN REPUBLICANS!
______________________________________

I'm still selling tickets to that meeting that president Barack Obama had with your (R)Minority Leaders yesterday in the White House.

It was funny see'n President Obama feeding these ladies/gents some GERBER cookies. The funniest was Eric Cantor who didn't know what to do with himself.

Obama knew, that Cantor knew, that Obama knew, that Cantors wife, JOB/Bank "Manager of a Bank" took some Stimulus money.

fuuuuuuuuuunny

Posted by: opp88 | February 24, 2009 1:50 PM | Report abuse

Have you checked his tax returns, his nanny's status, and all of the skeletons in his closet.
Frankly, Mr Obama, you don't need ANOTHER embarrassment

Posted by: dbeins | February 24, 2009 9:27 AM | Report abuse

Seattle rocks. The next Deputy Sec. of HUD, will be Ron Sims who got his job when Gary Locke became Governor. Seattle's top cop will be drug czar and a fourth Seattle-ite will be named this week to an Obama Administration position.
Gov. Locke channeled VP Gore by re-engineering the state's budget to streamline government. He had a record of supporting education, children, trade and diversity in appointments. The 37th Legislative District Democrats are proud of our members Gary and Ron and wish them well in their new positions.

Posted by: karwaki | February 24, 2009 6:00 AM | Report abuse

jay_casey _ was puzzled by your 17% figure, becasue here isn't one shred of evidence o support that claim. Then I realized that you were claiming all income for everyone involved in trade. Since our trade policies enrich only a very few people because since such a small proportion involves manufactured goods and, those few selling raw materials make a fortune, I think I figure out your claim. Sort of like Bill Gates walking into a bar with 20 unemployed guys and having some nitwit claim that the average gay in that bar is a millionaire.

As for your other claim, trade of all sorts in the 1990's was nothing short of a national disaster. We closed down timber mills and shipped the raw logs on container ships overseas for cutting into lumber. We did the same with well over 90% of the other items we traded. We actually lost tens of thousands of jobs due to our trading insanity... well, more than tens of thousands, estimates run anywhere from 15 to 30 million jobs. The return was to enrich a very few individuals who either controlled those raw materials or were involved in the packing nd shipping of them. It was a very bad deal for this country, continues to be a bad deal, and we very shortly end. No country in all of history has been able to survive by selling off it's raw materials without building an infrastructure for the future. Saudi Arabia, all of the oil states have done this. We have not. We have traded our raw material, our production plants, our jobs, our technology, our children's birthright, so that a very few treasonous swine can become even wealthier. Announcing to me that you make you living by "trading" is pretty much equivalent to standing up on a street corner and announcing that you are a pedophile ... although I would likely be willing to cut the pedophile more slack. A pedophile at least has the excuse that they are sick, diseased, and twisted. You don't even have those excuses. Free trade is treason.

Posted by: mibrooks27 | February 24, 2009 12:40 AM | Report abuse

In response to fly66's quoting of my post, I should say for the record that was taking issue with the way Cilizza had phrased part of this post when it first went up, but the sentence was quickly changed to something that made more sense. It was a comment on the way the story was written and had nothing in any way to do with Locke, his background or his qualifications. Please do not use my words to support your bizarre rightwing agenda.

Posted by: cm71 | February 23, 2009 9:02 PM | Report abuse

It appears that regardless of who is the next SecofCom, folks are trying to use the census as the downfall. Da. The Rep or the Dem's past actions leading up to a new Pres appear to play as parameters in the end result.It's the PEOPLE's choice. Why do we always use a scapegoat like this end result from a Census to scare off folks from becoming viable in a President's cabinet. The census will reflect How many of WHO the kinds of people are, what they do,how they do,and why they do what ever it is that they do while living in a residence, in a community. How these folks actually vote,will decide who becomes elected in the community and state. So Stop using this as a stumbling block for any Cabinet member. We are the owner of our own kudos leading to our achievements or downfalls.

Posted by: mamamay | February 23, 2009 9:00 PM | Report abuse

mibrooks27, I've been exporting all of my adult career. My livelihood depends on it. From a national point of view, export-related jobs pay 17% more on average than do jobs not tied to exports. Most of the boom we enjoyed in the 90s came from export growth. It's naive of you to assume that everyone that is involved in trade believes in so-called "free trade". I believe in fair trade and that means a level playing field for all players.

Posted by: jay_casey | February 23, 2009 8:32 PM | Report abuse

There are some important national security and anti-corporate corruption reasons Locke should be looked at carefully before being given this critical post:

http://eastmans.web.aplus.net/pblog/index.php

Posted by: TheLastInspector | February 23, 2009 8:02 PM | Report abuse

Another Free Trader is a sell out to the American middle class. Fair Trade is what we need but apparently Obama and his appointees don't see to get it. :(

Posted by: tginmn | February 23, 2009 7:41 PM | Report abuse

"Point of order: If he was the first Chinese American to serve as governor of a state, he will always retain that designation, unless someone goes back in time and beats him to it."
beautiful!
As time passes, more and more folks are going to realize..as Gregg did, that no adult is in charge anywhere in the cabinet or this administration. And if you doubt it, listen to our vice president. Please keep Cheney's phone number handy, or at least Rove's....

Posted by: fly66 | February 23, 2009 7:36 PM | Report abuse

jay_casey - I wonder just how much you think you know about exports and trade. From your post, evidently not much. Only 5.6% of our trade exports are in the form of manufactured goods. The rest is in the form of raw materials - raw lumber, coal, soybeans, corn, and raw ore. People here blather about trade without any idea of what they are talking about. They merely spout the nonsense that is printed in newspapers like this one. Our trade policies DO NOT create jobs, those policies COST jobs. Our free trade experiment has reduced this country to third world status. We export raw materials and, back before our economy completely collapse, we imported finished goods, made from those raw materials.

Posted by: mibrooks27 | February 23, 2009 7:28 PM | Report abuse

Let's hope Locke understands that promoting exports is one of the most important ways Commerce could help us get out of the economic problems we are in. Ironically, the nation's export promotion efforts have been starved for resources since Bush took office. Locke also needs to stand up to China and force them to give up their "buy Chinese" policies and reduce our huge trade deficit with China.

Posted by: jay_casey | February 23, 2009 7:19 PM | Report abuse

On Washington State's downturn in 2002, Locke had this to say: "..we’re all looking for strong and growing international trade as the key to a renewed and thriving economy. Healthy international trade -- along with a solution to this state’s serious transportation mess -- offer us the best chance for sustained economic growth as we dig our way out of this downturn." He supports the H1-B and L-1 visa programs, supports guest worker visa of all stripes, supports NAFTA and CAFTA, and the ITO. He is a walking, talking free trade disaster.
As for competence, or lack thereof, he supported Ref 51, a better than 10 billion dollar boondoggle that was supposed to create a light rail system connecting Everett, Seattle and Tacoma. After blowing all of that money, after more than 10 years of taxes and grants and a spending spree that was right in line with what we all witnessed on Wall Street, that boondoggle went belly up and was abandoned. 'Oops. A little mistake. Sorry. We still need need mass transit but it will cost 5 or 10 or 20 times the original amount; maybe we can get a federal grant.' Locke is dumb as stump, a decent enough guy, but utterly incompetent. A typical political insider.

Posted by: mibrooks27 | February 23, 2009 7:07 PM | Report abuse

I lived in Washington through both of Locke's terms as governor. Sadly, I voted for him twice (I certainly wasn't going to vote for a Republican). Locke was the most worthless governor I've ever seen. He occupied space for eight years and never took a controversial stand or risked anything to lead. He's a huge nothing.

What this says about Obama is that he is terrible at selecting personnel. From the world's biggest blowhard in Biden, to the utterly spineless Locke, Obama has consistently failed to find and appoint people who might make a positive difference in the lives of Americans.

Posted by: treadlightly | February 23, 2009 6:39 PM
_________________________________________

So, exactly why is it then that you won't vote for a Republican if you are so unimpressed by Democrats?

Too much Democratic partisan Kool-Aide? Try voting as an Independent and your life will improve.

Posted by: hisroc | February 23, 2009 6:59 PM | Report abuse

Great pick. Locke also served in our legislature.

Posted by: cwh2 | February 23, 2009 6:46 PM | Report abuse

Has he paid his taxes?

Posted by: martiniano | February 23, 2009 6:45 PM | Report abuse

I lived in Washington through both of Locke's terms as governor. Sadly, I voted for him twice (I certainly wasn't going to vote for a Republican). Locke was the most worthless governor I've ever seen. He occupied space for eight years and never took a controversial stand or risked anything to lead. He's a huge nothing.

What this says about Obama is that he is terrible at selecting personnel. From the world's biggest blowhard in Biden, to the utterly spineless Locke, Obama has consistently failed to find and appoint people who might make a positive difference in the lives of Americans.

Posted by: treadlightly | February 23, 2009 6:39 PM | Report abuse

Does he pay his taxes?

Posted by: goku234 | February 23, 2009 6:32 PM | Report abuse

This is really great news. Former Governor Gary Locke is a very pragmatic executive, and has helped our state, specifically with trade among Asia-Pacific governments. Our state's economy prospered with Gary Locke running state government.

Posted by: rmorris391 | February 23, 2009 6:28 PM | Report abuse

Unbelievable. This guy was a failure as WA governor and lacks gravitas to say the least.

At some point during the Bush II Administration, Locke was selected by the DNC to deliver the Democratic rebuttal to a Bush speech. When asked by reporters what he felt upon being chosen for that, Locke''s response was (direct and complete quote) "Yikes!"

I suppose that comment was made to encourage people to take him seriously.

If he does get confirmed, Obama will regret this choice at some point - this guy is an idiot whose only saving grace is his ineffectivenss.

Okay - I forgot - Locke is of Chinese descent and the high point of his tenure as WA governor was a trip to China he took to visit his ancestral home. From the PR point of view given that China is on its way to owning the US financially, it''s not a bad idea to put a Chinese-American in this post.

This choice clearly was driven by appearances rather than competence. Hopefully Locke will be surrounded by capable people. This is a Bush-caliber appointment (i.e. Bush league).

Posted by: bpai_99 | February 23, 2009 6:13 PM | Report abuse

Obama continues his Republican lite campaign, don't forget the Clintons are partly responsible for the mess we are in now. We need people who can help out of this and continue business as usual.

Posted by: mrpotatohead | February 23, 2009 6:11 PM | Report abuse

This Third Time sounds like a real charm. I like his background, his knowledge, as posted in another site, on Chinese commerce, energy, et al.

Good pick. From a beautiful state that seems to take care of it's environment. Fresh, independent thinkers.

Posted by: nana4 | February 23, 2009 6:10 PM | Report abuse

Locke is a good guy and I think will do well in this position. BTW, Chris, he was elected in 1996, not 1995.

Posted by: taylorb1 | February 23, 2009 6:09 PM | Report abuse

Locke won't face the census as the article states. That moved to the White House, remember?

Posted by: llrllr | February 23, 2009 6:07 PM | Report abuse

... decent man, another clueless insider that will recycle the same tired, now suicidal, policies ... exactly what we don't need.

Posted by: mibrooks27 | February 23, 2009 6:06 PM | Report abuse

Well, lets hope the third time is a charm!
AND AGAIN, I LIKE WHAT This SAYS ABOUT OBAMA. Locke was for the opposition/ Clinton in the primaries, but Obama DECIDES who Will Do the Best Job best and can Put the past Politics Aside for the Good OF ALL.
HE ISN'T LIMITING SELECTION TO an INNER CIRCLE.
White House of Olde Politics would have ruled LOCKE out for not having that FROM DAY ONE 100% loyalty.

A Stronger more Able America- first years growth already in Bloom this Spring!

Y E A H!

Posted by: macdoodle1 | February 23, 2009 5:54 PM | Report abuse

Cillizza lost me when he actually used the word "cataclysmic" to describe Gregg's withdrawal, when polls show that people outside of DC and NH could not care less. It's a shame that this blogger can be called a 'colleague' to the likes of Bob Woodward.

Posted by: formerDCresident | February 23, 2009 5:41 PM | Report abuse

This is a great move for Obama. Locke is a smart and deliberate leader.

Posted by: kcheng50 | February 23, 2009 5:40 PM | Report abuse

Sorry, 'bout that, Chris.
I didn't read the whole article.
He's a Hillary Clinton Democrat.
That's good.
He's a good pick.
Thanks,
Judy in Texas

Posted by: Judy-in-TX | February 23, 2009 5:35 PM | Report abuse

Judy in Texas,

He is a Democrat. Also, should have been self-evident if he was a co-chair of Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign.

As a Washingtonian, I'm pretty excited about our former governor joining his cabinet.

Posted by: atacoma | February 23, 2009 5:34 PM | Report abuse

Dad gum it, Chris.
Is he a Democrat or a Republican?
(We Democrats are wondering if Obama learned any lesson from Senator Gregg's feckless withdrawal.)
Thanks.
Judy in Texas

Posted by: Judy-in-TX | February 23, 2009 5:31 PM | Report abuse

Point of order: If he was the first Chinese American to serve as governor of a state, he will always retain that designation, unless someone goes back in time and beats him to it.

Posted by: cm71 | February 23, 2009 5:28 PM | Report abuse

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