Republicans gloat over baseball All-Star game’s return to Atlanta

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Gov. Brian Kemp speaks at a news conference at the Capitol on Saturday, April 3, 2021, as he and his supporters blast Major League Baseball's decision to move the All-Star game from Georgia over the state's new voting law. The league announced Thursday the All-Star game would return to Atlanta in 2025. (Steve Schaefer/AJC)

Credit: Steve Schaefer/AJC

Credit: Steve Schaefer/AJC

Gov. Brian Kemp speaks at a news conference at the Capitol on Saturday, April 3, 2021, as he and his supporters blast Major League Baseball's decision to move the All-Star game from Georgia over the state's new voting law. The league announced Thursday the All-Star game would return to Atlanta in 2025. (Steve Schaefer/AJC)

Editor’s note: New name, same jolt of Georgia political news, scoops and exclusives. Welcome to Politically Georgia, formerly known as The Jolt. Greg Bluestein, Tia Mitchell, Patricia Murphy and Adam Van Brimmer will continue to be your eyes and ears on everything you need, from Atlanta to Washington, D.C., and beyond.

A key moment in Gov. Brian Kemp’s 2022 reelection bid came shortly after Major League Baseball yanked the All-Star game from Truist Park in April 2021 over the passage of the state’s new election law.

At the time, Kemp faced growing backlash over his rocky relationship with former President Donald Trump. Baseball’s decision to relocate the game to Colorado let Kemp play the hero to the GOP base by criticizing the move.

After the league announced Thursday the All-Star game would return to Atlanta in 2025, Kemp and other Republicans let loose another emotion: Vindication.

“Georgia’s voting laws haven’t changed,” Kemp said, “but it’s good to see MLB’s misguided understanding of them has.”

The league pulled the All-Star game shortly after Georgia overhauled election laws, amid pressure from players and politicians, including a push to boycott the game by President Joe Biden.

Critics were outraged over a Kemp-backed rewrite of the law. The legislation, the Election Integrity Act, included a new ID requirement for mail-in votes, curbed the use of ballot drop boxes and gave the Republican-controlled Legislature more power over local elections.

But while Democrats remain opposed to many of the measure’s provisions, some have acknowledged it hasn’t led to the dire consequences that many outspoken critics feared.

In his victory lap following Thursday’s announcement, Georgia GOP Chair Josh McKoon lamented the small businesses who lost out on sales from the “knee-jerk reaction.” Gabriel Sterling, one of the state’s top election officials, said he considered baseball’s decision a “partial apology for the lies” about the law.

“In the longest instant replay review of all time, MLB’s head office finally overturned a bad call,” said Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger. “Georgia’s elections are safe, secure, and accessible to serve our voters.”

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State Rep. Teri Anulewicz's district includes Truist Park. She is a Smyrna Democrat. (Natrice Miller/natrice.miller@ajc.com)

Credit: Natrice Miller/AJC

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Credit: Natrice Miller/AJC

LISTEN UP. The state lawmaker whose district includes Truist Park, host to the 2025 Major League Baseball All-Star game, joins the Friday edition of the “Politically Georgia” radio show. State Rep. Teri Anulewicz, a Smyrna Democrat, shares insights on the potential impact of baseball’s summer classic at 10 a.m. on WABE 90.1 FM. The show is also broadcast via a livestream player available on AJC.com and the AJC mobile app.

In case you missed it, Democratic strategist Alex Floyd was the guest on Thursday’s “Politically Georgia.” Floyd, a Stacey Abrams’ operative in the 2022 governor’s race, recently guided Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear to a successful reelection bid and talks with the AJC’s political insiders about lessons the race might hold for Democrats in Georgia.

The episode is available at Apple Podcasts, Spotify and Google Podcasts.

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HALEY’S GEORGIA GANG. Former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley has been rising against her GOP presidential rivals in crucial early state polls. She’s headed to Atlanta in December for a high-dollar fundraiser with deep-pocketed supporters to keep her momentum going through the Iowa caucuses in January. Tickets start at $2,500 per person.

The list of more than 30 sponsors for the event includes Haley’s national fundraising chairman Eric Tanenblatt, former Cousins Properties CEO Tom Bell, United Distributors CEO Doug Hertz, Selig Enterprises chairman Steve Selig and others. Politicos on the list include state Rep. Deborah Silcox, R-Sandy Springs, and Sandy Springs Mayor Rusty Paul.

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Misty Hampton was charged with racketeering and other felonies along with former President Donald Trump by a Fulton County grand jury. (Fulton County Sheriff's Office).

Credit: Fulton County Sheriff's Office

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Credit: Fulton County Sheriff's Office

KEEP UP. The identity of the Fulton County election interference case leaker is no longer a mystery. Jonathan Miller III, a Brunswick-based attorney, acknowledged in court Wednesday that he’d released video testimony of those defendants who’d reached plea deals with prosecutors. Miller represents one of the others charged in the case, Coffee County elections supervisor Misty Hampton, and received the videos as part of the trial discovery process.

Other developments in the case against former President Donald Trump and his allies reported this week by AJC journalists include:

You can stay on top of the case via the “Trump Georgia Indictment” section on AJC.com and by signing up for the “The Trump 19″ weekly newsletter.

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U.S. Rep. Hank Johnson, D-Ga., joined progressive Democrats to formally call for the United States to back a ceasefire in Gaza this week. (Nathan Posner for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Credit: Nathan Posner for the AJC

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Credit: Nathan Posner for the AJC

CALL FOR CEASEFIRE. U.S. Rep. Hank Johnson joined progressive Democrats to formally call for the United States to back a ceasefire in Gaza.

The Lithonia Democrat signed a letter to President Joe Biden and Secretary of State Antony Blinken urging them to pressure Israel to halt military action in Gaza that began after Hamas militants launched terrorist attacks against Israel in an Oct. 7 invasion.

Every member of Georgia’s congressional delegation has expressed support for Israel’s counteroffensive against Hamas, although U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Rome, has questioned whether the U.S. should provide aid. The issue of an Israeli ceasefire to protect civilians in Gaza after weeks of bombings and raids has deeply divided Democrats.

Johnson is the only Georgia lawmaker among 24 House Democrats who signed the letter. The lawmakers condemn Hamas’ attack but express “dire concerns with the ongoing Israeli response,” citing Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry estimates that more than 11,000 Palestinians have been killed.

One of Johnson’s House colleagues and a fellow Georgia Democrat, Rep. Nikema Williams, has asked for updates on Americans stranded in Gaza and has raised concerns about the hundreds of thousands of people displaced there. Williams represents an Atlanta district.

In the Senate, Georgia Sens. Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock have called for more humanitarian aid and pressed the White House for more information about Israel’s strategy to defeat Hamas while protecting civilians in Gaza. Both Ossoff and Warnock are Democrats.

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TURNING ON SANTOS. Dozens of U.S. House members who earlier this month helped defeat an effort to expel Rep. George Santos from Congress say they are ready to oust him now that the House Ethics Committee has released the results of its investigation.

Among them is U.S. Rep. Hank Johnson, who said the committee’s determination that there is enough evidence to convict Santos of violating campaign finance laws changed his mind.

Johnson, D-Lithonia, and Rep. Nikema Williams, D-Atlanta, were two of 31 Democrats to join 182 Republicans, including all nine from Georgia, in opposing the expulsion of the Santos, a New York Republican, earlier this month.

But Johnson was among the many to cast “no” votes who said the committee report and “substantial evidence” has given them confidence that it is time for Santos’ removal.

“Two weeks ago, I voted NO on the Motion To Expel Rep. Santos to afford him due process, but when and if a vote is called on a Motion To Expel introduced by House Committee on Ethics Chair, (Mississippi Republican Mike) Guest, I will vote YES,” Johnson wrote in a social media post.

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MAN CRUSH? Georgia U.S. Sen. Jon Ossoff always looks his best when at work on Capitol Hill, and his appearance caught the attention of a colleague earlier this week.

Pennsylvania’s U.S. Sen. John Fetterman, who is notorious for wearing gym shorts and a hoodie around the Capitol, remarked to reporters that he wished he “could look like that” upon spotting Ossoff walking by.

Fetterman’s admiration for his fellow Democrat was relayed via social media post by a Politico reporter, although it is unclear if Fetterman was commenting on Ossoff’s wardrobe choice or his general looks.

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TODAY IN WASHINGTON:

  • President Joe Biden meets in San Francisco with Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador then hosts leaders for a retreat as part of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit.
  • The U.S. House and Senate are on Thanksgiving break.

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HATE BAN. Brookhaven City Council on Tuesday outlawed public distribution of flyers between 9 p.m. and 7 a.m. as well as the unauthorized projection of images in public view. The move is meant to counter a wave of antisemitic and transphobic messaging in Atlanta-area neighborhoods.

Rough Draft Atlanta reports the fine for overnight canvassing is between $100 and $250. The revised ordinance states the projection of an “image that contains a credible threat with malicious intent to harass, threaten, or intimidate another person or group” is a third-degree felony.

The law change was prompted by hate-filled flyers being left in the driveways of residents in Brookhaven, Dunwoody, Roswell, Sandy Springs and other metro cities and last month’s incident where a neo-Nazi group projected an antisemitic message on a Cobb County interstate overpass.

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Georgia is among the 33 states suing Instagram parent Meta over what state attorneys general, including Georgia’s Chris Carr, describe as intentionally designed platforms with “manipulative features that make children addicted to their platforms while lowering their self-esteem.” (Natrice Miller/natrice.miller@ajc.com)

Credit: Natrice Miller/AJC

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Credit: Natrice Miller/AJC

META. Wednesday’s episode of The New York Times’ “The Daily” podcast detailed the legal strategy of more than three dozen states to treat Big Tech companies like the Big Tobacco companies of the 1980s through lawsuits showing their products’ addictive and harmful nature.

Georgia is among the 33 states suing Instagram parent Meta over what state attorneys general, including Georgia’s Chris Carr, describe as intentionally designed platforms with “manipulative features that make children addicted to their platforms while lowering their self-esteem.”

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For every Duke fan in Atlanta, there’s a UNC fan ready to dunk on them. So meet Roy Williams Blair, named for the great Carolina basketball coach by the same name. (Courtesy photo)

Credit: Courtesy photo

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Credit: Courtesy photo

DOG OF THE DAY. You don’t have to live in Atlanta long to realize that for every Duke Blue Devils fan, there is a University of North Carolina fan ready to dunk on them, even here at Dog of the Day.

After we featured a handsome German shepherd named Duke recently, we heard from Janet Blair, whose rescue pup Roy Williams had some feedback.

Roy Williams is named for the legendary UNC basketball coach. Along with watching Tar Heels’ sports on TV, Roy Williams’ hobbies also include keeping squirrels and delivery drivers at bay. And although he also loves the AJC, we’re told he thinks our coverage could include more Carolina scores, including last weekend’s football squeaker over Duke.

Send us your dogs of any political persuasion and location, and cats on a cat-by-cat basis, to patricia.murphy@ajc.com, or DM us at @MurphyAJC.

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AS ALWAYS, Jolt readers are some of our favorite tipsters. Send your best scoop, gossip and insider info to greg.bluestein@ajc.com, tia.mitchell@ajc.com, patricia.murphy@ajc.com, and adam.vanbrimmer@ajc.com