ATLANTA — A fired-up Gov. Brian Kemp continued his defense of the Georgia election reform law on Saturday, and continued to hit at the Major League Baseball's decision to move the 2021 MLB All-Star Game from Georgia.
The July 2021 event - as well as the MLB Draft - was supposed to happen at Truist Park, home of the Atlanta Braves, in July, but the league's commissioner, Robert Manfred Jr., said the MLB made the decision to move both events from the Cobb County stadium after Kemp signed a controversial election reform bill into law.
Kemp in an earlier statement characterized the decision by the MLB as a capitulation to "cancel culture," and said the state wouldn't be "bullied."
During his Saturday remarks, a fiery Kemp, flanked by mostly un-masked backers of the new Georgia election reform law, defended the "Election Integrity Act of 2021" and reiterated the Republican talking point that the legislation makes it "easy to vote and hard to cheat."
Joined by an equally-fired up Republican Attorney General Chris Carr and US Rep. Drew Ferguson (R-GA 3rd District), Kemp also repeated his claim that critics of the bill don't actually understand the law, and that MLB "caved" to criticism when they moved the All-Star Game.
"I will not be backing down from this fight," the governor said.
"MLB, Coca-Cola, and Delta may be scared of Joe Biden, Stacey Abrams, and the left, but I am not," he added, referring to the strong stances both companies' CEOs took in opposition to the law.
Carr condemned critics' comparison of the law to the Jim Crow era and said the state would fight back against lawsuits filed against the law. Meanwhile Ferguson took it a step further and said critics of the bill should immediately apologize for what he characterized as damaging statements made against "the men and women who voted to make sure Georgia's elections are open and fair."
Re-watch the full news conference on our YouTube channel.
Georgia has come under pressure following the passage of a law that critics have said will disenfranchise many of the state's voters. The Election Integrity Act of 2021 requires an ID number, like a driver’s license, to apply for an absentee ballot and cuts off absentee ballot applications 11 days before an election. It also limits the number of absentee ballot drop boxes; allows the state to take control of what it calls “underperforming” local election systems; and disallows volunteers from giving away food and drink to voters waiting in lines.
The law is already facing legal challenges and gaining national attention as groups have called for a boycott of the state in protest.
However, proponents of the law, including Governor Brian Kemp, suggest that the law actually expands voting options in some ways.
Still, the decision on Friday suggests that some major national organizations are unhappy with the law and its impact on the state's voters.
“Major League Baseball fundamentally supports voting rights for all Americans and opposes restrictions to the ballot box," Manfred stated.
While having the major game moved from Georgia will likely have a significant financial impact, Manfred said that plans to celebrate the memory of Hank Aaron during the season's All-Star festivities and the MLB's planned investments in local communities in Atlanta will move forward.
Details on the new host city for the All-Star game have not yet been released but are expected to be announced soon.
Following the announcement, the Atlanta Braves released a statement on the decision, adding that the organization is "deeply disappointed" with the MLB's course of action.