Gov. Brian Kemp, shown leaving the Georgia GOP convention on Saturday, gave a defense at that gathering of the state’s new anti-abortion “heartbeat” law in the face of opposition from the film industry, a big spender in Georgia. “We value and protect innocent life — even though that makes C-list celebrities squawk,” Kemp said then. On Wednesday, after canceling a trip to Los Angeles when there was talk he’d be greeted by protests, he toured Pinewood Studios in Fayette County and the state-financed Georgia Film Academy to thank executives for their investments in the state. HYOSUB SHIN / HSHIN@AJC.COM
Photo: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Photo: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

The Jolt: Kemp’s silence on Hollywood threats speaks volumes 

One by one, almost every major Hollywood studio has released a statement warning that each could leave the state if the anti-abortion “heartbeat” law goes into effect in January.

And Gov. Brian Kemp, the signator of those new restrictions, has greeted each with the same response: Silence. No public statement, no social media retort, no show of force from surrogates.

His spokesman points back to a press release issued last week when he toured the state-financed Georgia Film Academy, away from the prying eyes of the media, touting the “hardworking Georgians” in the industry.

But he’s done little else to tamp down the drip-drip-drip of Hollywood outrage since he addressed the backlash and boycott threats at the Georgia GOP convention. 

“We are the party of freedom and opportunity,” he said at the Georgia GOP convention in Savannah. “We value and protect innocent life — even though that makes C-list celebrities squawk.

There are other reasons for the silence. Any public misstep could risk throwing gas on the fire. And his allies note that most of the film industry titans supported Stacey Abrams anyways. 

But there’s a bigger force at play. 

Kemp won election by wringing out as many votes from conservatives as he could. And many of those voters, especially from rural Georgia, couldn’t care less about Hollywood boycotts. 

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And then there are some conservatives spoiling for a fight. Count Lou Dobbs among them. 

On Fox Business, Dobbs warned that Hollywood leaders would be "violating their fiduciary duties" by withdrawing from Georgia and its lucrative film tax credit. 

Then he took it a step further, saying that if studio executives "carry out their threats, retaliation from the other side will follow. And it will escalate -- to the disadvantage and destruction of all." 

We aren’t sure what he means by “retaliation,” but we imagine it has something to do with boycotting the studios themselves.

***

Meanwhile, Stacey Abrams tweeted this reaction Friday morning to the Hollywood fallout:

Market Warnings: Major studios haven’t boycotted GA yet, but laid out conditions for departure. GA isn’t the only state w film tax credit, but we’re the major one potentially hostile to women. Want to change market conditions? 2020 state elections are a good start. #Consequences

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Gov. Brian Kemp announced four new Superior Court judgeships Friday - but the list was just as notable for a potential jurist who was passed over for a promotion. 

That would be DeKalb State Court Judge Dax Lopez,a Latino Jewish Republican who was seeking a superior court seat. 

Lopez was blocked by U.S. Sen. David Perdue from a federal judgeship after anti-illegal immigration activists in Georgia objected to his leadership in a group that opposed local government participation in 287(g) programs. 

Some of those same forces oppose his bid for the new county post. 

Kemp tapped another state court judge, Shondeana C. Morris, for the post. 

A former Fulton County prosecutor and assistant Atlanta solicitor, Kemp said she “offers the ideal set of legal expertise and leadership skills for this critically important position.”  

***

If those appointments were any indication, Gov. Brian Kemp’s administration is seeking diversity on the bench that reflects Georgia’s demographics. 

Both Shondeana Morris and Jeffrey Monroe, who was tapped to the Bibb County bench, are black jurists. 

Kemp’s predecessor, Gov. Nathan Deal, drew criticism for selecting few African-Americans and women to the judiciary’s highest posts. 

***

The Atlanta Braves drew heat last year when the team played political hardball by co-hosting a high-dollar fundraiser for Brian Kemp and not for Stacey Abrams.

Fast forward to Wednesday’s event at the team’s Battery complex to celebrate landing the All-Star game in 2021.

Kemp was there. So was Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms. And the county’s GOP leadership, too. 

Missing: State Sen. Jen Jordan and state Rep. Teri Anulewicz, the two Democrats who represent the district that encompasses the stadium in the Georgia Legislature. 

Jordan took to Twitter to vent about the diss: 

“So, how did Cobb's Republican county commissioner get invited to big reveal but not Dem women who represent area in Ga House & Senate. Right, @tanulewicz? I sure hope that @Braves or @BrianKempGA didn't just assume that we don't like sports? #HitLikeAGirl #2020 #2022”

As of Thursday evening, Jordan said she hasn’t heard from the team. 

****

It’s official: President Trump will not be able to put his signature on the disaster relief bill until next week. 

Tennessee Republican John Rose blocked House Democrats’ latest attempt to quickly move the $19 billion emergency aid package without a roll call vote yesterday. He’s the third conservative to do so over the last week. (GOP leaders are on board with the bill.) 

House members will reconvene on the evening of June 3. Expect the chamber to easily pass the legislation then. 

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