By Stacy Nguyen
Northwest Asian Weekly
The problem with rumors is that sometimes it gets too big and takes on a life of its own. The Northwest Asian Weekly first learned of former Gov. Gary Locke’s so-called ‘talks’ with President-elect Obama from a Chinese news agency that called to talk to the NWAW’s publisher, Assunta Ng.
The agency asked her what she knew about Locke forthcoming appointment in the Obama administration.
She knew nothing — and told the agency so. However, the idea was intriguing enough that she dug a little deeper. She probed for information through her extensive contact list. Person after person told her speculation after speculation. Locke has expressed an interest, some said. Many have even called his office to ask, “Where are you? Are you in Chicago?”
“No, I’m in Washington state,” Locke said in an interview with Ng. He finds the situation funny himself. “A lot of people think I’m talking to Obama, but I’m not! They refuse to believe me.” Locke ought to be flattered. So many Asian Americans hold him in such high esteem.
As the Chinese news agency pointed out, there’s something to be prideful about. Locke has been the only Asian American governor in the U.S. mainland and the only Chinese American governor in the history of this country.
When asked by Ng if he was interested in an appointment in the Obama administration, Locke said, “I don’t know. It depends on what’s available, what positions are open. It’s clear that in a couple of weeks, they will make some announcements. There are all types of transitional teams working on this.”
Some of Locke’s apprehension comes from the fact that he does not want to be far from his family. He has to look into the travel commitment and the time commitment such a position may require. However, “it’s hard to say ‘no’ when the president calls himself,” Locke said.
When asked what position he would want, Locke said, “You don’t do that (negotiate). When the president calls, you just say ‘yes’ or ‘no.’”
Locke has already contributed to the Obama campaign in other ways. He was in Ohio, Virginia, Washington DC and Washington state, fundraising and helping to get the word out to Asian Americans to vote.
His efforts contributed to a difference in the number of Asian American voters. Locke says that 64 percent of Asian Americans voted for Obama nationwide. In Ohio alone, the Asian American turnout was much bigger overall than it had been in previous years. Nevada increased the number of API voters from 20,000 to 30,000.
Locke thinks that the Obama victory has left its mark on all Asian minorities, especially those looking to go into politics. “Obama has definitely shattered the racial glass ceiling,” Locke said. “It’s not like you can run just for Senate or Congress. Now we can run for President too.”
When asked if he has any aspirations in running for president himself at the moment, Locke answered with a clear and simple, “No.”
However, time will tell what is in store for Locke’s future in politics. ♦
Assunta Ng contributed to this report.