Governor Doug Ducey is lacing up to battle with Nike.
Flickr via Gage Skidmore
After Nike’s announcement that it would be withdrawing a line of Betsy Ross-themed shoes after concerns about its racial insensitivity, Arizona Governor Doug Ducey took action ... on Twitter.
In a tweetstorm that began at 2 a.m. and concluded within six minutes, Ducey announced he’d ordered Arizona Commerce Authority to withdraw all state financial incentives for a new Nike multimillion-dollar manufacturing plant in Goodyear. The reason behind the decision? Nike's decision to pull a pair of shoes featuring an early American flag.
Nike chose to pull the The Air Max 1 USA, created in celebration of the Fourth of July holiday, after Colin Kaepernick, the former NFL quarterback turned activist, reached out to inform the company he and others found the Betsy Ross flag an offensive symbol because of its connection to an era of slavery, according to a Wall Street Journal
report published last night.
The Arizona Commerce Authority quickly followed the governor's lead.
"At the governor’s direction, we are withdrawing an up to $1 million grant offer from the Arizona Commerce Authority’s Arizona Competes Fund," said Susan E. Marie, executive vice president of strategy at the authority. "Unlike other programs in statute that are eligible to any and all companies, including Nike — this is purely discretionary."
While Ducey drew a lot of applause from conservatives, others were not so pleased.
“That Ducey would eliminate jobs for the people of Arizona for this? It’s very heartbreaking, but it’s so enlightening,” said Katt McKinney of Black Lives Matter Arizona in Phoenix. “A lot of people are proud of this country, and not the people who built it. So Ducey punishes corporate America for listening to the soul of Blacks — shame on Ducey for not agreeing with the pulling of a shoe that should not have been created in the first place.”
Mary Grace Wendell, a retired schoolteacher, urged citizens to opposed Ducey's directive.
"It's time for Goodyear to stand up and take care of their community even if the governor of their state thinks otherwise," she said in a Facebook message.
U.S. Representative Ruben Gallego said Ducey was acting presidential.
"Doug Ducey is taking a page out of Donald Trump's playbook – playing politics rather than focusing on creating jobs for Arizonans," Gallego said on Twitter. The Congressman said District 7 would welcome the factory, and invited residents to contact his office if they needed help following the announcement.
Finally, Nike weighed in, defending its decision to support Kaepernick.
"Nike made the decision to halt distribution of the Air Max 1 Quick Strike Fourth of July based on concerns that it could unintentionally offend and detract from the nation’s patriotic holiday," the company said in a statement.
It also vowed to make more shoes in Arizona,
"We already employ 35,000 people in the U.S. and remain committed to creating jobs in the U.S., including a significant investment in an additional manufacturing center which will create 500 new jobs,” the statement concluded.
According to the deal Nike had with the city of Goodyear, the plant would have brought an estimated 505 full-time manufacturing jobs, with an average salary of $48,514 per year. (The average salary for Goodyear residents is currently $38,616.)
Goodyear City Council unanimously signed an agreement with the company just Monday night, promising to waive up to nearly $1 million in planning fees, and reimburse Nike another $1 million for the jobs created.
Goodyear Mayor Georgia Lord said the city will continue to work with the shoemaker.
"The city of Goodyear has found itself in the middle of a difficult situation," the mayor said in a statement. "Today, much has unfolded. I can appreciate the emotion and discussion that I’ve heard on this important topic. We will honor the commitment we made in our agreement."
But commitments be damaned, Ducey decided he’d be given liberty, or he’d give nothing. “Arizona’s economy is doing just fine without Nike,” the governor's tweet thread continued. “We don’t need to suck up to companies that consciously denigrate our nation’s history.”
In keeping with the federal GOP zeitgeist, Ducey aired his grievances online. In a nine-part Twitter thread, Ducey said he was “deeply disappointed” in Nike’s “terrible decision,” and accused the company of bowing to “the current onslaught of political correctness and historical revisionism.”
The governor's office did not respond to requests for comment.
Ducey’s tweets have made national headlines and currently have thousands of retweets and over 16,000 likes on Twitter.
Correction: The story originally referred to the Arizona Commerce Authority incorrectly. This story also was updated with comments from Nike and the mayor of Goodyear.