Senate unanimously approves Locke as commerce secretary

WASHINGTON — Former Washington state Gov. Gary Locke was confirmed late Tuesday as the 36th secretary of commerce. Only Washington state's two senators spoke as the full Senate approved Locke's nomination by unanimous consent.

"He has served the people of Washington state well and he will bring that same level of commitment and intelligence to this administration," said Democratic Sen. Patty Murray.

Washington state's other senator, Democrat Maria Cantwell said Locke was the "right man for the job."

Locke was the Obama administration's third nominee for the post. The other two, New Mexico Gov, Bill Richardson and Sen. Judd Gregg, R-N.H., withdrew.

Locke, 59, was the nation's first Chinese-American governor, serving two terms from 1997 to 2005.

As commerce secretary he will oversee everything from the 2010 Census to the National Weather Service and from federal fisheries policy to international trade.