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Obama's Commerce Nominee Richardson Withdraws

New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson has withdrawn his name for nomination as U.S. President-elect Barack Obama's commerce secretary.

Governor Richardson said Sunday his decision stems from a federal grand jury investigation into a company that contributed to his political activities and won a contract with the state he leads.

In a statement, Richardson said he and his administration have acted properly in all matters. But he said the ongoing investigation could take weeks, or months, and could delay his Senate confirmation to Mr. Obama's Cabinet.

Mr. Obama said he accepted Richardson's withdrawal with "deep regret." The president-elect said Richardson's decision is a measure of his willingness to put the nation first.

Richardson was a rival to Mr. Obama for the Democratic Party presidential nomination last year. Richardson says he will remain in his job as governor of New Mexico for now.

Mr. Obama selected Richardson to head the Commerce Department in December. The New Mexico governor was the first Hispanic named to Mr. Obama's Cabinet.

The governor is a former congressman and served under former President Bill Clinton as energy secretary and U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.