Gary Locke

From Academic Kids

Governor Gary Locke
Governor Gary Locke

Gary Locke (born January 21, 1950) was the governor of Washington (1997-2005), and the first Chinese American governor in the United States. His Chinese name is 駱家輝 (Cantonese jyutping: Lok3 Gaa1 Fai1, Mandarin pinyin: Luņ Jiāhuī). He is a Democrat.

As a third-generation Chinese American with paternal ancestry in Taishan, Guangdong Province, Locke is the second of five children of James (American-born) and Julie Locke (from Hong Kong). He attended Yale University and graduated with a degree in political science in 1972. He received his law degree from Boston University in 1975.

In 1982, his South Seattle district elected him to the Washington House of Representatives, where he served as chairman of the Appropriations Committee. Eleven years later, in 1993, he made history by becoming the first Asian American elected as King County Executive, defeating incumbent Tim Hill. In 1996, he won the primary and general elections for governor. He easily won re-election in the 2000 election.

Democrats criticised him for embracing the Republican Party's no-new-taxes approach to dealing with the state's budget woes during and after the 2001 recession. Among his spending-reduction proposals were laying off thousands of state employees, reducing health coverage, freezing pay for most state employees, and cutting nursing homes and programs for the developmentally disabled. In his last budget he suspended two voter-passed, pro-school initiatives and cut state education. The same state budget had record high allocations for construction projects.

On the national stage, Democrats saw him as a rising star and a possible vice-presidential pick. He was chosen to give the Democratic response to George W. Bush's 2003 State of the Union address. However, at home, former Supreme Court Justice Phil Talmadge announced his plans to challenge Locke from the left in the 2004 primary (Talmadge ultimately ended his campaign early for health reasons).

In a surprise move, Locke announced in July 2003 that he would not seek a third term, saying, "Despite my deep love of our state, I want to devote more time to my family." It has also been suggested that he may be preparing a presidential bid for 2008. He left office on January 12, 2005. If the 2004 election dispute between Christine Gregoire and Dino Rossi had not been resolved by then, Locke would have had to retain the office according to the Constitution of Washington. Upon leaving office, Locke joined the Seattle office of international law firm Davis Wright Tremaine LLP in their China and governmental relations practice groups.

In 1994, he married Mona Lee Locke (李矇 Li Meng), a former KING television reporter whose father came from Shanghai and whose mother came from Hubei. They have three children, Emily Nicole, Dylan James, and Madeline Lee.


Preceded by:
Mike Lowry
Governors of Washington
1997 – 2005
Succeeded by:
Christine Gregoire

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