Moments after the Atlanta Braves advanced to the World Series for the first time in decades, Gov. Brian Kemp took a swing at Major League Baseball and his Democratic archrival for a snub earlier this year.
The first-term Republican fired off a tweet as Braves players were celebrating their victory over the hated Los Angeles Dodgers that invoked MLB’s decision to yank the All-Star game from Truist Park earlier this season – and again tried to blame Stacey Abrams for the controversial move.
“While Stacey Abrams and the MLB stole the All-Star Game from hardworking Georgians, the Braves earned their trip to the World Series this season and are bringing it home to Georgia,” he said.
The governor faced immediate criticism from Democrats and other for injecting politics into the dramatic victory, a 4-2 defeat of the Dodgers before a sold-out crowd that sent the Braves to the championship series for the first time since 1999.
“As Braves fans across the country were celebrating, Brian Kemp swung and missed again with his bizarre deflection of blame for the harm to Georgians resulting from a bill that he signed,” said Seth Bringman, a spokesman for Abrams.
The league yanked the game in April in protest of a new Georgia election law that imposes restrictions on voting. Though many state Democrats assailed the shift, it became a rallying cry for Republicans who claimed fearmongering from critics of the law deprived metro Atlanta of a premier event.
Kemp’s debut reelection ad assails the “liberal mob” for the game’s move out of Truist Park. The state GOP held a baseball-themed rally near the ballpark days before the game was to be held there that demanded an end to “cancel culture.”
And the Republican National Committee and other GOP groups ran TV spots during the game, which was shifted to Denver, bashing the move. In one, a former Republican legislator accused Democrats of hijacking the game to “push their divisive political agenda.”
Much of the GOP backlash has centered on Abrams, Kemp’s likely Democratic challenger and a voting rights advocate who has helped lead the opposition to the overhaul.
Shortly after Kemp signed the measure into law, she urged the league not to pull the game from Georgia. Since then, she and Democratic leaders have called for companies critical of the law to stay in Georgia and finance efforts to fight the restrictions rather than boycott the state.
But Republicans have tried to make Abrams the face of MLB’s pullout, saying her campaign against the legislation wound up hurting small business owners who would have benefited from the event. Democrats, meanwhile, mock the attempt to pin the blame on her.
The law includes a new ID requirement for mail-in votes, curbs the use of ballot drop boxes and gives the Republican-controlled Legislature more power over local elections. It also bans outside groups from handing out food and water to voters in lines and expands weekend voting in some rural counties.
Opponents of the law have brought a string of legal challenges, including a lawsuit filed in June by the U.S. Justice Department. President Joe Biden called it “Jim Crow on steroids.” And it has divided Georgia’s corporate world, spurring Coca-Cola and Delta Air Lines to publicly oppose the overhaul.
The team’s postseason success seems certain to bring new attention to the law – and awkward moments as a league that refused to hold the All-Star game in Georgia to protest the law will now host the game’s championship series at Truist Park.
Former U.S. Sen. Kelly Loeffler used the occasion to remind Braves fans of her remarks in April, when she urged Republicans not to boycott the team. A World Series berth, she wrote then, would “be an epic walk off, home run answer to Major League Baseball’s cautionary, unforced error.”
Marci McCarthy, the chair of the DeKalb County GOP, took to social media shortly after the team’s victory to put a different spin on it.
“Who needs the MLB All Star Game when you get to play in the World Series?”