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Gary Locke

Governor Gary Locke

Gary Locke (駱家輝 in pinyin: Luņ Jiā huī) (born January 21, 1950) is the current governor of Washington (1997-) and a member of the Democratic Party. He is the first Chinese American governor in the United States.

As a third-generation Chinese-American with 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 1983, 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.

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 challenged Locke from the left in the 2004 primary.

In a surprise move, in July 2003, Locke announced he would not seek a third term. "After much thought and careful deliberation with my family, I have decided not to seek a third term as governor of Washington State," he said. "Despite my deep love of our state, I want to devote more time to [my family]. As profoundly important as it is to be your governor, it is just as important to me to be a good husband and father."

In 1994, he married Mona Lee Locke (李矇 Li Meng), a former KING 5 television reporter whose father came from Shanghai and whose mother came from Hubei. They have two children, Emily Nicole and Dylan James.