Fourth time’s the charm? Barack Obama’s two official picks to serve as commerce secretary both had to drop out. Another candidate withdrew her name before it was ever announced. Now the president is reported to have offered the job to former Washington Gov. Gary Locke. So who is he?

He’s the first Chinese-American governor, known for his smarts and a “bland, robotic style.” He moved rightward as governor. Welfare reform is listed among his highlights. He also partnered with Republicans, refusing to raise taxes to balance the budget and slashing spending instead.

As for as the commerce job, Locke has strong ties to China, one of America’s key trading partners. As governor, he sought to strengthen relations. He is said to be liked there, and to know China’s president, Hu Jintao.

Seattle Post-Intelligencer:

Since leaving office, he has been working for the law firm Davis Wright Tremaine on issues involving China, energy and governmental relations. Port of Seattle Commission Secretary Lloyd Hara said Locke was an “outstanding” choice due to his long history of working with foreign government and large corporations.

“Gary has been working hard on promoting international trade, especially in China,” Hara said. “He is well liked in China, knows President Hu Jintao and is with a well-connected law firm: Clearly, this would be a coup for the Pacific Northwest, and it also brings added diversity to the Obama Cabinet.”

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