MARIETTA, Ga. (AP) — Georgia’s Republican governor on Saturday stepped up his attack on Major League Baseball’s decision to pull this summer’s All-Star Game from the state in response to a sweeping new voting law, saying the move politicized the sport and would hurt minority-owned businesses.
“It’s minority-owned businesses that have been hit harder than most because of an invisible virus by no fault of their own,” Gov. Brian Kemp said. “And these are the same minority businesses that are now being impacted by another decision that is by no fault of their own.”
Kemp spoke along with Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr, also a Republican, at a seafood and po’boy restaurant miles from the stadium in a suburb north of Atlanta where the game would have been held, though he said he didn’t think the business was minority-owned. The game will now be played in Denver. Kemp noted the city has a much smaller percentage of African Americans than Atlanta.
Critics say it’s the voting law that will disproportionately affect communities of color.
MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred has said he made the decision to move the All-Star events after discussions with individual players and the Players Alliance, an organization of Black players formed after the death of George Floyd last year, and that the league opposed restrictions to the ballot box.
A MLB spokesman said the league had no immediate additional comment Saturday.
Several groups already have filed suit over the voting measure, which includes strict identification requirements for voting absentee by mail.
It expands weekend early voting, but limits the use of ballot drop boxes, makes it a crime to hand out food or water to voters waiting in line and gives the State Election Board new powers to intervene in county election offices and to remove and replace local election officials. That has led to concerns that the Republican-controlled state board could exert more influence over the administration of elections, including the certification of county results.
The rewrite of Georgia’s election rules — signed by Kemp last month — follows former President Donald Trump’s repeated, baseless claims of fraud after his presidential loss to Joe Biden. Democrats have assailed the law as an attempt to suppress Black and Latino votes, with Biden calling it “Jim Crow in the 21st Century.”
Carr and Kemp blasted that comparison.
“This made up narrative that this bill takes us back to Jim Crow — an era when human beings were being killed and who were truly prevented from casting their vote — is preposterous,” Carr said. “It is irresponsible, and it’s fundamentally wrong.”
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