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Chinese-American Locke likely US commerce nominee
Updated: 2009-02-24 10:37

Gary Locke, the first Chinese-American to have headed a state government, was US President Barack Obama's likely third choice for secretary of commerce, US media reported Monday.

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A formal announcement of the nomination could come as early as Tuesday, according to US TV and wire reports.

Locke, 57, was the country's first Chinese-American governor, elected to lead the Washington state in 1996 and re-elected in 2000.

Prior to governorship, the Democrat served five terms in the House of Representatives and one term as executive of King County, Washington.

He was chairman of the House Appropriations Committee from 1989 to 1994.

Analysts said Locke is a Democrat who "is a comfortable ideological fit with the Obama administration".

While the secretary of commerce is not regarded as one of the top-tier power posts in the US Cabinet, he could serve as a voice for the globalists in the new administration.

He comes squarely out of the free-trade mindset of the mainstream business community in the northwestern United States and has a good relationship with China.

Personally, Locke seems like he would fit in with the "No Drama Obama" approach to governing.

During his tenure as governor, he has the reputation of being a wonkish, pragmatic figure who was not unnecessarily combative.

If nominated and confirmed, Locke would fill a post to which Obama has previously nominated New Mexico governor Bill Richardson and Republican Senator Judd Gregg form New Hampshire.

Richardson withdrew in early January, citing an ongoing federal investigation in his home state, while Gregg pulled out of consideration on February 12 because of "irresolvable conflicts" over the Obama administration's stimulus bill and the upcoming 2010 census.

Obama's young administration has been beset by problems with Cabinet nominees.

He is still searching for a candidate to lead the Department of Health and Human Services, after former Senate Democratic leader Thomas Daschle ran into obstacles.

Both Daschle and Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner were involved in tax controversies. Geithner, however, was ultimately confirmed by the Senate.

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