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Richardson gets US commerce nod

President-elect Obama nominates Gov Richardson as US commerce secretary

US President-elect Barack Obama has picked New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson as his commerce secretary.

Mr Richardson is one of the most prominent Hispanic politicians in the US and his nomination has been expected for several weeks.

He becomes the latest former rival for the Democratic presidential nomination to join Mr Obama's cabinet.

The president-elect has named more than half of his cabinet in the month since he was elected president.

Mr Obama called Mr Richardson a leading "economic diplomat for America".

"During his time in state government and Congress, and in two tours of duty in the cabinet, Bill has seen from just about every angle what makes our economy work and what keeps it from working better," he said.

Mr Richardson pledged - in English and Spanish - to work to renew the economy.

Veteran politican

Mr Richardson, 61, is no stranger to government, having served under Bill Clinton as UN ambassador and energy secretary.

Bill Richardson with Barack Obama

He is in his second term as New Mexico's governor, having also served seven terms as a congressman.

If confirmed by the US Senate, he would take over a sprawling department that oversees the national weather service, the census bureau, economic development programs and more.

Mr Richardson was a contender for the state department job, but Mr Obama offered him the post as commerce secretary after choosing another former presidential rival, Senator Hillary Clinton, to be his secretary of state.

Former rival Senator Joe Biden will serve as his vice president.

Mr Obama has yet to name his intelligence team - including his director of national intelligence and CIA chief - as well as several other cabinet posts.

When Mr Richardson leaves to assume his new post, New Mexico's Lt Gov Diane Denish, a Democrat, will become the state's first female governor.

She will take over for the remainder of Richardson's term, which runs through 2010.

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