Capitol Alert

Gavin Newsom uses controversy over flag shoes to urge Nike to come to California

Gov. Gavin Newsom is using a political controversy over a Nike shoe to encourage the retailer to relocate a planned manufacturing plant to California.

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey said Tuesday he would revoke financial incentives for the company to build a plant in his state after Nike decided not to sell a shoe with a Revolutionary-era U.S. flag to celebrate Independence Day.

“Hey, @Nike — we’re just a quick jaunt over the border,” Newsom tweeted Tuesday in response. “Thank you for doing the right thing. CA is open for business and welcomes those that represent the best of our American values.”

Newsom, a Democrat told reporters Wednesday he saw Ducey’s decision as a good opportunity for California, which he said needs to do more to promote itself as a good place for businesses.

“If a state wants to give up on an investment, we want to compete,” he said. “One of the big issues in California over the last few decades is we stopped investing in our lead... we just need to get back in the game and it seemed an opportunity from my perspective to do just that.”

Nike had planned to sell a shoe depicting a version of so-called “Betsy Ross” flag that has just 13 stars to celebrate the July 4 holiday.

The company said it pulled the Air Max 1 USA shoe “based on concerns that it could unintentionally offend and detract from the nation’s patriotic holiday.” It make the decision after Colin Kaepernick, the former NFL quarterback who has starred in Nike ads, told executives the flag has been used by white nationalist groups, the Associated Press reported.

Ducey, a Republican, called that decision a “shameful retreat.”

“Arizona’s economy is doing just fine without Nike,” Ducey tweeted Tuesday. “We don’t need to suck up to companies that consciously denigrate our nation’s history.”

It’s not the first time Newsom has seized on a political issue to encourage companies to do business in California. In May, he urged film companies to move their productions out of states like Georgia that have enacted abortion bans and back to California, which has more lenient abortion laws.

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Sophia Bollag covers California politics and government. Before joining The Bee, she reported in Sacramento for the Associated Press and the Los Angeles Times. She grew up in California and is a graduate of Northwestern University.
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