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Davis Wright Partner Picked for Commerce Chief

Posted Feb 25, 2009 7:30 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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A former Washington governor who is a partner in the Seattle law firm Davis Wright Tremaine is President Obama’s latest pick to head the Commerce Department.

Gary Locke, who helps lead Davis Wright’s China practice, was Obama’s third choice after two previous nominees withdrew, according to stories in the New York Times and the Associated Press. Locke also worked in the law firm’s energy and governmental relations practices and is a former prosecutor, according to the firm’s website.

Locke was the nation’s first Chinese-American governor. The child of Chinese immigrants, he spent the first years of his life in public housing, according to the Times story. “He’s really, really proud of his Chinese heritage,” according to Chris Vance, a Republican lawmaker who was a frequent critic when Locke was governor. “He’s passionate that we need to have a positive relationship with China,” Vance told the Times.

The AP story says Locke could face questions over campaign finance issues. In one instance he returned donations made by individuals implicated in a fundraising scandal.

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