The Jolt: The MLB All-Star game, brought to you tonight by GOP ‘woke’ ads
News and analysis from the politics team at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Credit: JOHN SPINK / AJC
Credit: JOHN SPINK / AJC
April 6, 2021 Cobb County: Workers with DeNYSE load the All Star sign after removing it from near the stadium’s scoreboard on Tuesday, April 6, 2021 at Truist Park. A Cobb County-based Civil Rights Organization says moving Major League Baseball’s All-Star Game out of Georgia was the right call, regardless of the economic impact to local businesses. New Order National Human Rights Organization gave their latest update on Tuesday, April 6, 2021 in front of Truist Park in Cobb County regarding Major league baseball relocating the All Star from Atlanta. The organization said they realized that the Governor has responded to cancelation of the all Star game here in Atlanta and as a national human rights organization gave their response to the game being moved out of Atlanta. (John Spink / John.Spink@ajc.com)
If you love unwinding from the stress of Georgia politics by getting lost in the excitement of a great baseball game, you’ll need to use extreme caution watching the Major League Baseball All-Star game in Denver tonight.
That’s because along with last night’s tribute to Braves great Hank Aaron and a contest among the league’s top players, tonight’s All-Star game will also come with a flood of ads financed by Republican groups attacking Major League Baseball – and Georgia Democrats – for the decision to yank the event from metro Atlanta.
Gov. Brian Kemp, the Republican National Committee and the National Republican Senatorial Committee are set to air ads during the game criticizing the league for ditching Atlanta in protest of the state’s restrictive new voting law.
We’ve also caught wind of two other Republicans joining the fray.
Senate contender Gary Black will air an ad blaming “liberals like Raphael Warnock and Stacey Abrams” for the league’s decision. “Outfits like Major League Baseball are so woke they’re weak,” he says in the ad.
U.S. Rep. Buddy Carter is also airing his own ad -- a debut of sorts for his campaign-in-waiting.
The congressman has said he will only run for the U.S. Senate if football icon Herschel Walker stays on the sidelines. But he clearly still wants to keep his name out there if Walker doesn’t run.
“Baseball used to be as America as it gets, but the radical left has other plans,” he says in the ad, which features him whacking at pitches at an empty ballpark.
(Eagle-eyed Savannah locals will recognize the spot as Historic Grayson Stadium, the home field of the Savannah Bananas.)
“In Congress, I fought alongside President Trump to defeat the big-government leftists. We need leaders who will take on big tech, big business and the big lies being forced down our throats.”
In April, Carter introduced legislation in Congress that would make it unlawful for the MLB to move a game outside of the regular season for any reason other than a pandemic, natural disaster, or state or federal emergency.
Meanwhile, in Denver, Colorado politicians there are taking a victory lap. Here is how the Denver Post reports it:
The game will be played under an unusual amount of political cloud cover after Major League Baseball's extraordinary move to bring the Midsummer Classic from Georgia to Denver in response to a controversial new election law in the Peach State. Democrats and Republicans have seized on the situation to score political points.
On the steps of the Capitol on Monday morning, Secretary of State Jena Griswold touted Colorado's “gold standard" election model and claimed the “worst Jim Crow voter suppression in recent American history" is occurring now.
- The Denver Post
The National Senatorial Campaign Committee unveiled its MLB-themed ad yesterday hitting U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock for the League’s decision to pull out of Cobb County.
On Tuesday, the @MLB’s brightest stars will square off in Denver during the All-Star Game, thanks to @ReverendWarnock.
But we noticed a discrepancy between the NRSC’s messaging, which says “Even Stacey Abrams opposed the boycott,” and that of Gov. Brian Kemp, whose debut ad for his reelection campaign blames the whole mess on his former (and likely future) rival for governor. “Stacey Abrams and the liberal mob forced the All Star game to move,” Kemp says in the ad.
The MLB pulled the game in protest of Senate Bill 202, which Kemp signed in March.
We’ve told you that Vernon Jones might not be Gov. Brian Kemp’s biggest possible threat from his right flank. Pro-Donald Trump forces wary of Jones’ long voting record as a Democrat and history of misconduct have been pushing for an alternative.
The name that has bubbled to the surface recently is Ames Barnett, a wealthy businessman and former mayor of Washington, Ga. who recently met with Trump aide Corey Lewandowski.
This weekend brought more buzz about his potential candidacy: Barnett was spotted at the Conservative Political Action Conference’s summer gathering in Dallas, the same day as Trump’s speech.
We’ve also noticed a newly refreshed Twitter page, launched June of 2021.
Georgia lawmakers will have a surplus of spending to dole out during next year’s legislative session. But the influx of cash could be too much of a good thing for politicians in an election year.
As our AJC colleague James Salzer reported, Georgia ended the fiscal year with a record $3.2 billion increase in state tax collections.
But the good fiscal news is also sure to spark a new debate among lawmakers about whether to sock the money away in a rainy-day fund, use it to fund political priorities or slash taxes.
One initiative that’s high on Gov. Brian Kemp’s to-do list is fulfilling a promise to hike teacher pay by $5,000 a year. He secured $3,000 of the raise in 2019, but his push to secure the rest of the salary increase was put on hold during the pandemic.
We asked the governor over the weekend if he’ll insist on securing the remaining $2,000 hike next year, and the governor was careful not to box himself in.
“Pay raises are certainly one of my top priorities. But, also you keep hearing talks about potential tax cuts. I campaigned on a military tax cut. So, we’re starting those discussions now. That commitment for a teacher pay raise is still there. Whether we can do it in one year, two years, three years – we’ll have to see.”
Instead of watching the All-Star game, a group of Republicans will be in Rome tonight with U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene at an “Election Integrity Town Hall.”
At the top of the billing are state Sen. Burt Jones, a likely contender for lieutenant governor, and state Sen. Brandon Beach. The two lawmakers have led the charge questioning the results of Georgia’s election in 2020. Both also recently traveled to Arizona to observe the GOP-sponsored review of ballots there.
It’s Election Day in Cobb County, where the runoff between Republican Devan Seabaugh and Democrat Priscilla Smith will decide who will represent House District 34.
The GOP-leaning seat in Cobb County was recently vacated by former state Rep. Bert Reeves and has gotten outsized attention as a test run for big names in the state to prep and refine their 2022 pitches.
POSTED: Jake Evans, the son of longtime GOP heavyweight Randy Evans, launched his bid to challenge U.S. Rep. Lucy McBath in the 6th Congressional District on Tuesday.
One of your Insiders has the details on Evans’ run in that increasingly crowded field.
On Monday, former GOP state Rep. Megan Hanson announced her run for the 6th District seat as well.
Georgia’s U.S. Sens. Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock have made good on their promise to find a workaround for expanding Medicaid in Georgia despite opposition from the state’s Republican leaders.
Alongside U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin, they introduced a bill that would direct the U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to create a new health insurance program similar to Medicaid.
The program would be used to provide health coverage for individuals in states like Georgia that don’t qualify for Medicaid because state leaders have declined to accept additional federal dollars available under the Affordable Care Act in order to expand the number of people on Medicaid.
A release about the proposed legislation said that it is endorsed by the Georgia Hospital Association, Grady Health System and the Wisconsin Primary Health Care Association. But without the support of 10 or more Republican senators, it’s not going anywhere.
We have some updates about the U.S. Department of Justice’s lawsuit challenging Georgia’s new election law.
The Republican Party of Georgia, the National Republican Senatorial Committee and the National Republican Congressional Committee have all received approval to intervene in the case on behalf of Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, the Georgia Election Board and the state government.
The move has the rare effect of putting Raffensperger and the entire GOP apparatus on the same side of an issue, in this case, opposing the Biden Administration’s effort to overturn portions of Senate Bill 202.
The Republican groups are bringing in their own attorneys from the Hall Booth Smith firm in Atlanta. Among them is Alex Kaufman, who resigned from his previous firm, Fox Rothschild, after news broke that he was listening in on the explosive phone call between Raffensperger and former President Donald Trump over general election results.
A conservative nonprofit based in Indiana, the Public Interest Legal Foundation, has also asked to intervene on behalf of the defendants. The foundation has been involved in litigation raising concerns about voter fraud in various states for years, and its president was tapped by former President Donald Trump to serve on an election integrity commission in 2017.
A bipartisan group of Georgia lawmakers is taking steps in hopes of putting Georgia in a better position to increase broadband in rural areas.
U.S. Rep. Rick Allen, R-Evans, took the lead on sending a letter to the Federal Communications Commission asking for an update on the maps used to identify places across the nation that lack reliable internet so that regulators have an accurate picture of the needs in Georgia. Other signers included U.S. Sens. Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock and U.S. Reps. Buddy Carter, Sanford Bishop, Drew Ferguson, Austin Scott, Andrew Clyde, Jody Hice, and Barry Loudermilk.
Separate from that, Georgia U.S. Rep. David Scott’s Agriculture Committee will hold a hearing Wednesday on a bill that would allocate $50 billion for loans and grants to aid in the construction of new broadband networks.
As Congress debates the need for a high-dollar infrastructure bill proposed by President Joe Biden, Savannah Mayor Van Johnson says the Port of Savannah needs the federal investment to complete its expansion plans.
In an op-ed in the Savannah Morning News, Johnson writes, “The historic Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework, introduced by President Joe Biden and a bipartisan group of senators, provides those investments we sorely need. It is the key to creating good-paying union jobs, building back a vibrant economy, and making Savannah home to one of the strongest port systems in the world for years to come.”
Biden’s plan includes $16 billion for ports and waterways. Savannah’s massive operation is the third-largest in the nation, behind Los Angeles/ Long Beach and New York/ New Jersey.