Now that President Obama has nominated Commerce Secretary Gary Locke to be the new ambassador to China, speculation abounds about his replacement. If confirmed by the Senate, Locke, who is of Chinese descent, would replace Ambassador Jon Huntsman.
Huntsman, a Republican, was appointed by Obama, but he resigned to return home and perhaps run for president next year.
Former Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland, who lost a re-election bid by a very narrow margin, is certainly qualified to be Commerce secretary. As governor of one of the leading exporting states in the nation and as a former member of Congress, Strickland has dealt with many of the issues handled by the department.
According to its website, the U.S. Department of Commerce has a broad mandate to advance economic growth and jobs and opportunities for the American people. It has cross cutting responsibilities in the areas of trade, technology, entrepreneurship, economic development, environmental stewardship and statistical research and analysis.
The secretary of Commerce oversees a $6.5 billion budget and approximately 38,000 employees.
From a political standpoint, Obama would certainly benefit from having a popular former governor in his cabinet when he seeks re-election next year. Ohio will be a battleground state and Strickland, as Commerce secretary, would be a powerful presence on the campaign trail.