Republicans take a swing in Georgia over All-Star Game’s relocation
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Republicans take a swing in Georgia over All-Star Game’s relocation

Republicans are set to run ads during Tuesday night’s All-Star Game blaming Democrats for fans in Georgia having to catch the action on television from Colorado — rather than live at Truist Park in Atlanta.

“This was supposed to be Atlanta’s night, but we were robbed,” Melvin Everson, a former Republican state lawmaker, says in an ad the Republican National Committee will air during the game.

Major League Baseball in April decided to move the Midsummer Classic from Atlanta to Denver earlier this year after Georgia’s Republican-led legislature and GOP Gov. Brian Kemp enacted a restrictive new voting law.

Though the MLB’s decision was a reaction to Republicans’ actions, the party has sought to blame Democrats for the fallout — claiming that leading Democratic figures’ criticism of the Georgia law came with steep economic costs to the city of Atlanta.

“Democrats stole our All-Star Game to push their divisive political agenda. Politicians and corporations lie, while Black communities got hurt the most,” Everson says in the ad. “To Democrats, it’s just a game. But we’re the ones that got played.”

The Georgia law imposes new voter ID requirements for absentee ballots, empowers state officials to take over local elections boards, limits the use of ballot drop boxes and makes it a crime to approach voters in line to give them food and water.

Backlash against the law was sharp, with Georgia-based corporations including Delta Air Lines and Coca-Cola criticizing it and a spate of lawsuits challenging the new voting rules.

Democrats have responded to the GOP attacks by pointing out that the decision to move the game — which would have been an economic boon for the Atlanta area — came as a result of Republicans’ actions at the Statehouse.

“The MLB All-Star Game would be played in Georgia today were it not for Brian Kemp and Georgia Republicans’ divisive, racist attack on voting rights — plain and simple,” Scott Hogan, the executive director of the Democratic Party of Georgia, said in a statement.

“Though we’ve come to expect the Georgia GOP to put their bad, unpopular policies ahead of the best interests of our state, it is no less pathetic that Kemp and Republicans are unwilling to accept responsibility for the consequences of their actions,” he said.

The Republican effort to hammer Democrats over the All-Star Game’s location is a glimpse into Georgia’s future as one of the nation’s most important battleground states. Democrats narrowly won the presidential race and two Senate runoffs there in the 2020 election — and Republicans are desperate to shift the state back into GOP hands with Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock up for reelection next year and the governor’s office on the ballot.

Republicans have sought to blame Democrat Stacey Abrams, the voting rights advocate and likely challenger to Kemp in next year’s midterm elections, for the economic fallout. The criticism of Abrams comes despite her urging the MLB to keep the game in Georgia and pleading with corporations to stay in Georgia and fight against restrictive voting laws rather than bailing on the state.

Kemp’s opening ad of his reelection campaign targeted Abrams over the All-Star Game’s relocation this week.

“This week, we should be celebrating baseball. Instead, Stacey Abrams and the liberal mob forced the All-Star Game to move,” he said in the ad. “They’ll put their political agenda ahead of jobs, small business, even the truth.”

The National Republican Senatorial Committee is also airing an ad during the game, blaming “the radical left woke crowd” for the MLB’s decision to move the game out of Georgia and hammering Warnock for failing to oppose the move.

Heritage Action, the conservative dark-money group, said it is spending $168,000 on ads in Georgia before and during the All-Star Game and another $250,000 on a digital advertising campaign in the state.

The group’s 60-second spot offers a “fact check” of sorts, highlighting some portions of the law — including its requirement that every county offer two Saturdays of early voting, up from the previous requirement of one.

“Liberal politicians and woke corporations worked together to attack Georgia’s law, create a false narrative, and move the All-Star Game to Denver, depriving Georgians of $100 million in lost revenue,” Jessica Anderson, the executive director of Heritage Action, said in a statement.

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