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Gary F. Locke

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Subject: Boston University School of Law, List of Boston University School of Law alumni, U.S.–China Strategic and Economic Dialogue
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Gary F. Locke

For other people named Gary Locke, see Gary Locke (disambiguation).

Gary Locke
10th United States Ambassador to China
Assumed office
August 1, 2011
President Barack Obama
Preceded by Jon Huntsman, Jr.
36th United States Secretary of Commerce
In office
March 26, 2009 – August 1, 2011
President Barack Obama
Deputy Dennis Hightower
Rebecca Blank (Acting)
Preceded by Otto J. Wolff (Acting)
Succeeded by Rebecca Blank (Acting)
21st Governor of Washington
In office
January 15, 1997 – January 12, 2005
Lieutenant Brad Owen
Preceded by Mike Lowry
Succeeded by Christine Gregoire
5th King County Executive
In office
January 4, 1994 – January 15, 1997
Preceded by Tim Hill
Succeeded by Ron Sims
Member of the Washington House of Representatives
from the 37th district
In office
January 10, 1983 – January 3, 1994
Preceded by Peggy Maxie
Succeeded by Vivian Caver
Personal details
Born Gary Faye Locke
(1950-01-21) January 21, 1950 (age 64)
Seattle, Washington, U.S.
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Mona Lee (1994-present)
  • Emily Nicole
  • Dylan James
  • Madeline Lee
Alma mater Yale University (B.A.)
Boston University School of Law (J.D.)
Religion Baptist


Gary Faye Locke (born January 21, 1950) is an American politician who has been the United States Ambassador to China since 2011. He was the 21st Governor of Washington from 1997 to 2005 and served in the Obama administration as United States Secretary of Commerce from 2009 to 2011. He was appointed as Ambassador to China on August 1, 2011.

He was the first Governor of a state in the Continental United States of Asian descent, and is the only Chinese American ever to serve as a Governor, and the first Chinese American to serve as U.S. Ambassador to China.[1]

Family and education

Locke was born on January 21, 1950 in Seattle, Washington, and spent his early years with his family living in the Yesler Terrace public housing project. A third-generation Chinese American with paternal ancestry from Taishan, China, Locke is the second of five children of James Locke, who served as a staff sergeant in the U.S. Fifth Armored Division during World War II,[2] and his wife Julie, who is from Hong Kong, which at that time was a British crown colony. His paternal grandfather left China in the 1890s and moved to the United States, where he worked as a houseboy in Olympia, Washington, in exchange for English lessons.[3] Gary Locke did not learn how to speak English until he was five years old and entered kindergarten.[4]

Locke graduated with honors from Seattle’s Franklin High School in 1968, and achieved Eagle Scout rank and received the Distinguished Eagle Scout Award from the Boy Scouts of America.[4][5] Through a combination of part-time jobs, financial aid, and scholarships, Locke attended Yale University, graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in political science in 1972.[6] He later received his Juris Doctor from the Boston University School of Law in 1975.

Washington state

In 1982, Locke was elected to Washington State's South Seattle district in the Washington House of Representatives, where he served as the Chair of the Appropriations Committee. Eleven years later, Locke was elected as King County's Executive, defeating incumbent Tim Hill.


In 1996, Locke won the Democratic primary and general election for Governor of Washington, becoming the first Chinese-American Governor in United States history. His political committee was fined $2,500 by regulators in 1997 after admitting to state campaign finance law violations during his successful campaign.[7]

Locke faced criticism from fellow Democrats for embracing the Republican Party's "no-new-taxes" approach to dealing with Washington's budget woes during and after the 2001 economic turmoil. Among his spending-reduction proposals were laying off thousands of state employees; reducing health coverage; freezing most state employees' pay; and cutting funding for nursing homes and programs for the developmentally disabled. In his final budget, Locke suspended two voter-passed school initiatives and cut state education funding. Supported by the state's political left, former Washington Supreme Court Justice Phil Talmadge announced his plans to challenge Locke in the 2004 Democratic primary, but Talmadge ended his campaign early for health reasons; Locke won re-election in 2000.

On the national stage, Democrats saw Gary Locke as a possible vice-presidential choice. In 1997, Locke was a guest at that year's State of the Union address.[8]

Locke was chosen to give his party's response to George W. Bush's 2003 State of the Union Address.[9] In a surprise move, Locke announced in July 2003 that he would not seek a third term,[10] saying, "Despite my deep love of our state, I want to devote more time to my family."[10] Susan Paynter, a columnist at the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, suggested that racist slurs, insults, and threats that Locke and his family received, especially a large number which came after his rebuttal to George W. Bush's 2003 State of the Union address, may have played a role in Locke's decision to leave office after two terms.[11] The governor's office received hundreds of threatening letters and e-mails; others threatened to kill his children.[11] His official portrait, painted by Michele Rushworth was unveiled in the state capitol by Governor Christine Gregoire on January 4, 2006.

After leaving office, Locke joined the Seattle office of international law firm Davis Wright Tremaine LLP, in their China and governmental-relations practice groups. During the leadup to the 2008 Democratic presidential primary, Governor Locke signed on as Washington co-chairman of Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton's bid for President.[12]

Secretary of Commerce

On December 4, 2008, the Associated Press reported that Locke was a potential candidate for Secretary of the Interior in then-President-elect Barack Obama's cabinet. Eventually, then-Colorado Senator, Ken Salazar, was nominated for that position instead.

On February 25, 2009, Locke was announced as President Barack Obama's choice for Secretary of Commerce,[7] and his nomination was confirmed by the United States Senate by unanimous consent on March 24, 2009.[13] Locke was sworn in March 26, 2009, by District Judge Richard A. Jones,[14] and he was sworn in by President Obama on May 1, 2009. Locke was the first Chinese American appointed as Secretary of Commerce, and one of three Asian Americans in Obama's cabinet, joining Secretary of Energy Steven Chu and Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki. Politico reported Locke had been a popular cabinet member among both businesses and the executive branch.[15] A declaration of assets made in March 2011 showed Locke to be the sixth-richest official in the US executive branch.[16]

Ambassador to China

Following the resignation of Jon Huntsman, Jr., Locke was nominated by President Obama to serve as U.S. Ambassador to China.[17] The Senate confirmed Locke by unanimous consent on July 27, 2011;[18] Locke resigned as Secretary of Commerce on August 1, 2011.[19] A photo of Locke carrying his own backpack and ordering his own coffee at the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport went viral on the Sina Weibo social network.[20][21] At his first news conference after arrival in Beijing, Locke pledged to promote bilateral cooperation and understanding between the two countries.[22]

Early in Locke's Ambassadorship, Chinese dissident

Personal life

Locke married his wife, Mona Lee, a television reporter for the NBC affiliate KING 5 television in Seattle and former Miss Asian America on October 15, 1994. Her parents immigrated to the United States from Taiwan, while they were originally from Mainland China, paternal side from Shanghai and maternal side from Hubei. The Lockes have three children: Emily Nicole (b. March 1997), Dylan James, (b. March 1999) and Madeline Lee (b. November 2004).[25]


External links

  • Ambassador Gary Locke
  • United States Department of Commerce
  • The Washington Post
  • C-SPAN
  • Internet Movie Database
  • Template:NYTtopic
  • WorldCat catalog)
  • Template:Nndb
  • Washington State Digital Archives
Political offices
Preceded by
Tim Hill
King County Executive
Succeeded by
Ron Sims
Preceded by
Mike Lowry
Governor of Washington
Succeeded by
Christine Gregoire
Preceded by
Carlos Gutierrez
United States Secretary of Commerce
Succeeded by
Rebecca Blank
Succeeded by
John Bryson
Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
Jon Huntsman, Jr.
United States Ambassador to China

Template:US Ambassadors to the PRC

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