Page last updated at 23:44 GMT, Monday, 23 February 2009

'Likely' US Commerce chief named

Former Washington State Governor Gary Locke (23/01/2003)
Mr Locke was the first Chinese-American to be a US governor

Former Washington Governor Gary Locke is a "likely nominee" for the post of commerce secretary in the US cabinet, says a senior White House official.

Mr Locke, the first Chinese-American state governor, would be the third person nominated for the post by President Barack Obama.

Two previous nominees have both withdrawn from the selection process.

Analysts said those decisions had been a blow for Mr Obama's efforts to shape a cabinet and reach out to Republicans.

Republican US Senator Judd Gregg withdrew his nomination on 13 February, citing "irresolvable conflicts" on policy issues including Mr Obama's economic stimulus package and the country's census.

He was the fourth person to have turned down Mr Obama's nominations.

The president had originally picked New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson for the commerce post, but he withdrew over an investigation into a state contract given to his campaign donors.

Meanwhile Tom Daschle, who was to become the new secretary of health, and Nancy Killefer, Mr Obama's choice to oversee budget and spending reform, both pulled earlier this month over questions about their payment of taxes.

Mr Locke, a law graduate, served two terms as governor between 1997 and 2005 and has argued for building stronger relations with China.

No time has yet been set for an official White House announcement of his expected nomination.

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