Obama’s 3rd Commerce pick makes rounds in Senate

March 5, 2009

President Barack Obama’s third pick to head the Commerce Department, former Washington Governor Gary Locke, made the rounds in the U.S. Senate on Wednesday hoping to win support to be confirmed for the job.

OBAMA/NOMINEE LOCKEApparently escaping notice by most reporters, Locke waited with aides outside the Senate chamber as lawmakers cast votes on the $410 billion fiscal 2009 spending legislation which includes the Commerce Department.

He is the president’s third nominee for the position. Obama’s first choice, New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson, withdrew because of an inquiry into a company that did business with his state government. His second pick, New Hampshire Republican Senator Judd Gregg pulled out after discovering intractable political differences with the new administration.

Locke met with Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller who was effusive about the nomination, but acknowledged that the Senate review process was not yet complete.

“It’s not over yet and that’s such a frustrating process,” Rockefeller said. “It’s moving well, I really liked him. We’re lucky to have him.”

After one vote, Locke disappeared into an elevator with Democratic Senator Max Baucus, chairman of the powerful Senate Finance Committee. He also exchanged a few words with two other Senate Democrats, new Alaska Senator Mark Begich as well as Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon.

For more Reuters political news, click here.

– Photo credit: Reuters/Kevin Lamarque (Obama introduces Locke as his Commerce Department secretary nominee)

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