Obama Names Gary Locke Commerce Secretary

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama has named former Washington Gov. Gary Locke as his next secretary of the Department of Commerce.

Obama says Locke will be a trusted voice in his cabinet, an advocate for economic competitiveness and an ambassador for American industry.

Locke says he will use the Commerce Department to implement Obama’s strategy to turn around the economy.

Locke served two terms as governor from 1997 to 2005 and has since worked for a Seattle law firm on international trade issues.

Locke will need to be confirmed by the Senate, which may bring up questions over campaign contributions in the 1990s.

Two other nominees for the Commerce job withdrew — New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson because of an investigation and Republican New Hampshire Sen. Judd Gregg because of policy disagreements.

The Commerce department oversees many aspects of international trade. It’s also responsible for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the 2010 Census.

Locke is 59. He was born into a Chinese family and lived in a Seattle public housing project until he was 6. He graduated from Yale University and Boston University Law School.

He is married to Mona Lee Locke, a former television news reporter. They have three children.