Georgia’s Republican Governor Brian Kemp blamed “cancel culture” and Democratic opposition to a recently passed elections law – and not the GOP-sponsored bill itself – for Major League Baseball’s decision to move its All-Star game from the state.
While standing alongside a dozen state Republican officials, the governor said “they will stop at nothing to silence all of us”.
He suggested critics have not singled out pieces of the bill in their assessments, despite reporters pressing him on individual elements of the law.
Asked whether he is concerned about a “snowball effect” following MLB’s move as well as opposition from massive Georgia-based companies like Coca-Cola, the governor said “you can bow down to this cancel culture” but “it will never be enough”.
The governor’s comments marked the third time within 24 hours that he has condemned “cancel culture” across several outlets, amplified by his GOP allies – he appeared on Fox News host Tucker Carlson’s programme on Friday night to deliver similar remarks.
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Georgia – one of at least 47 states mulling legislation to cut early voting and absentee ballots, among other proposals – has faced widespread backlash over the law, which limits the period for absentee ballots, strips elections officials from key oversight roles and into the hands of partisan legislators, slashes the number of ballot drop boxes in a large Democratic-leaning county, and criminalises giving out food and water to voters standing in line at the polls.
President Joe Biden – who has called the law “un-American” and “a blatant attack” on voting rights in a statement following its passage – told ESPN that he supported MLB’s decision to pull out of the state, condemning the law as “Jim Crow on steroids”.
Democratic officials in Georgia have largely avoided pursuing boycotts, arguing that doing so would cost the state much-needed jobs.
Georgia voting rights advocate Stacey Abrams, who challenged Mr Kemp in the 2018 governor’s race, said that while she is disappointed that the All-Star game is relocating, “I commend the players, owners and the league for speaking out”.
“Georgians targeted by GOP voter suppression will be hurt as opportunities go to other states,” she said in a statement on Friday. “We should not abandon the victims of GOP malice and lies – we must stand together.”
On Saturday, former president Barack Obama praised league officials for “taking a stand on behalf of voting rights for all citizens”.
State Republicans have suggested that it is Democratic opposition – not the consequences of passing such a bill – that has cost the state jobs associated with the game.
Meanwhile, former president Donald Trump – who sought to overturn election results in the state, which elected a Democratic president for the first time since 1992, along with two Democratic senators, shifting the balance of power in Congress – has called on his supporters to “boycott baseball and all of the woke companies” condemning the bill.
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