Last year Nike announced that it would build a new manufacturing plant in Goodyear, Arizona, bringing more than 500 jobs with it. Score one for Gov. Doug Ducey. Then, last week, news broke that the company had withdrawn its new sneakers featuring the colonial-era Betsy Ross flag from stores after Nike spokesman and Woke Pope Colin Kaepernick objected that it was racist or whatever. Ducey wasn’t going to stand for that, even if it meant flushing hundreds of jobs down the crapper:
Arizona’s economy is doing just fine without Nike. We don’t need to suck up to companies that consciously denigrate our nation’s history. 8/
— Doug Ducey (@dougducey) July 2, 2019
Arizona’s loss would be New Mexico’s (or some other state’s) gain, it seemed. But hold on. After Ducey posted his tweets, the mayor of Goodyear issued a statement of her own insisting that “We will honor the commitment we made in our agreement.” That was 10 days ago, with the deal momentarily in limbo.
Then, finally, came resolution early today. Nike would be coming to Goodyear after all, according to an excited … Doug Ducey?
— Doug Ducey (@dougducey) July 11, 2019
He was against the plant coming to Arizona before he was in favor of it, but he was in favor of it before he was against it. Double flip-flop. Which means, I guess, that I need to issue a correction to this post: I thought Ducey’s Nike rant on Twitter was a sort of informal announcement that he planned to run for president in 2024, but that must have been incorrect. No pol who’s eager to pander to righty populists by waging culture war over sneakers would dare turn around and cave — especially not this quickly. He’d look like a total yutz.
In fairness, this isn’t so much a double flip-flop as it is a one-and-a-half flip-flop. Ducey never explicitly said in his Twitter rant on July 2 that he didn’t want Nike’s business in his state, although he certainly strongly implied it. What he said was that he didn’t want the company to receive the $1 million in state financial incentives that had been earmarked for its new plant. And according to the Arizona Republic, it’s still not going to receive those incentives. Ducey stuck to his guns on that and Nike decided to come to Goodyear anyway. The wrinkle is that the company *will* still receive the larger $2 million incentive package it was set to receive from the city of Goodyear itself. Essentially, Nike decided that it was willing to sacrifice $1 million in the name of staying on track with its new plant and watching the governor of Arizona have to swallow his supposed patriotic indignation over its sneaker decision. To Nike, watching Ducey cave might have been worth that much to them since it signaled in a newsy way that any halting efforts to boycott the company over the Betsy Ross thing have already fizzled.
I wonder what convinced Ducey to back the deal after he seemed to usher Nike towards the exit. Maybe he got an earful from pols and citizens in Goodyear that they’d make his life miserable if he cost them hundreds of jobs because of a dispute over whether a shoe design is or isn’t sufficiently patriotic. Possibly he was told by state lawyers that he’d have trouble in court if Nike challenged his decision to withdraw the state financial incentives, since governments aren’t supposed to discriminate on the basis of political viewpoint in making official decisions. Or maybe Ducey just misjudged how angry righties were at the time and were likely to remain about the Betsy Ross sneakers being flushed down the memory hole. He may have thought at the time that Trump was about to jump on the sneaker news and call for a boycott, igniting grassroots Republican opposition to Nike. If that had happened, Ducey would have been positioned at the front of the parade as someone who got to the issue before even Trump did. A populist leader! But Trump ignored the issue — surprisingly — and righties seemed to forget about it in short order, leaving Ducey in the unhappy position of leading a one-man parade that was going to cost his state major economic benefits. He did the right thing in the end, however grudgingly.