The Jolt: To boycott or not to boycott? Georgia Democrats’ new question after SB 202

12/15/2020 —  Atlanta, Georgia — Former Democratic Georgia Gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams speaks during a “Get Ready to Vote” rally for Georgia Democrat U.S. Senator candidate Rev. Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff at Pratt-Pullman Yard in Atlanta’s Kirkwood neighborhood, Tuesday, December 15, 2020.  (Alyssa Pointer / Alyssa.Pointer@ajc.com)
12/15/2020 — Atlanta, Georgia — Former Democratic Georgia Gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams speaks during a “Get Ready to Vote” rally for Georgia Democrat U.S. Senator candidate Rev. Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff at Pratt-Pullman Yard in Atlanta’s Kirkwood neighborhood, Tuesday, December 15, 2020. (Alyssa Pointer / Alyssa.Pointer@ajc.com)

Credit: Alyssa Pointer / Alyssa.Pointer@ajc.com

Credit: Alyssa Pointer / Alyssa.Pointer@ajc.com

Georgia’s corporate giants aren’t the only ones facing potential boycotts because of the sweeping state law that includes elections restrictions. Big-time sporting events are also feeling the heat.

The Boston Globe reported that the head of Major League Baseball’s players’ union said he “would look forward” to discussing moving the All-Star Game from Atlanta after Gov. Brian Kemp signed the overhaul into law.

Los Angeles Dodgers manager Dave Roberts, one of two Black managers in the league, added that he would consider declining to manage in the game as a form of protest if it is held in Atlanta.

The National Black Justice Coalition has urged the PGA to pull the Masters from the Augusta National Golf Club, saying GOP voter restrictions are “designed to turn back the clock on civil rights.”

And a Washington Post columnist has joined others who have called on Atlanta to lose a shot at hosting the Final Four and becoming one of 16 venues for the 2026 World Cup.

All of that, along with film director James Mangold, who tweeted after the bill passed, “I will not direct a film in Georgia.”

Some of the state’s leading Democrats are tapping the brakes on the talk of economic punishment. State Sen. Jen Jordan urged liberals to “stop with this boycott Georgia nonsense.”

“I would rather people and companies use their economic power in this state for change rather than not come here at all,” said Jordan, who is expected to run for attorney general.

State Rep. Teri Anulewicz, who represents the area near the Braves stadium, said she hopes the All-Star Game remains in Atlanta and that the players “join this fight.”

But unlike previous boycott attempts, like the threats that surfaced after Georgia passed one of the nation’s strictest abortion limits, Stacey Abrams isn’t urging Democrats to back off the economic threats.

Instead, Abrams and the Fair Fight voting rights group she founded are continuing to pressure businesses to take a stand, with battles over voting elections restrictions pending in other states and in Congress.

“GA is only the beginning, and business leaders need to make a decision NOW: stand with Jim Crow 2.0 and the US Capitol insurrectionists or stand with democracy,” tweeted Hillary Holley, a senior Fair Fight staffer.

Kemp, meanwhile, said the threats will only hurt “hardworking” Georgians still struggling during the pandemic.

“It’s ridiculous that they’re doing this. I can tell you the Masters isn’t going to bow to that,” the governor said. “We’re going to have a great week in Augusta. You obviously can’t play the Masters if you’re not in Augusta.”

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Gov. Brian Kemp signs the elections overhaul into law at the Capitol, flanked by legislative leaders.
Gov. Brian Kemp signs the elections overhaul into law at the Capitol, flanked by legislative leaders.

The folks at CNN have an important story about the painting of the Callaway Plantation in Washington, Ga. that served as the background to Gov. Brian Kemp’s signing of the election restrictions law.

The piece interviews Kimberly Wallace, who notes that her family members worked on the plantation for generations, including her father, who was a sharecropper there. The optics, she said, were “very rude and very disrespectful to me, to my family, to Black people of Georgia.”

Kemp spokeswoman Mallory Blount told CNN the hubbub over the painting was an attempt by the media to “distract” from the new law.

“The house in the painting was built in 1869, after the abolition of slavery,” she said. “The painting was selected by the Georgia Council for the Arts’ ‘Art of Georgia’ program which rotates different pieces of art for display throughout the state capitol.”

The artist, Olessia Vladimirovna Maximenko, was born in the former Soviet Union in 1980 and now lives and works in Washington, Ga. Her work has also been selected for display through the Art in Embassies program of the U.S. State Department.

Some other history from the story:

Job Callaway built a log cabin on the property in 1785, which grew to a 3,000-acre working plantation by the 1860s, according to the plantation’s website. The plantation features a slave cabin that was built in 1840, it says.

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We’ve been inundated with questions from readers about whether their own representatives voted Yae or Nae for SB 202.

You can see how your lawmakers voted on the bill’s page at the General Assembly’s website.

And you can read the full text of the bill on the AJC’s Legislative Navigator.

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January 6, 2021 Atlanta: Gabriel Sterling, voting system manager in the Georgia secretary of state’s office addressed the press from GEMA Headquarters Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021 brining up to date all the State’s election results from the U.S. Senatorial runoff. Georgia voters sent the pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church to the U.S. Senate. The Rev. Raphael Warnock, senior shepherd of the same congregation once led by Martin Luther King Jr., will become the first elected Black Democratic senator – not just from Georgia, but from the entire South. Democrat Jon Ossoff claimed victory over Republican incumbent David Perdue in his Senate race. He would become the second Jewish candidate to win a statewide race in modern Georgia -- and the youngest since Joe Biden was elected to the Senate in 1972. (Sam Nunn, elected that same cycle, was 34). (John Spink / John.Spink@ajc.com)
January 6, 2021 Atlanta: Gabriel Sterling, voting system manager in the Georgia secretary of state’s office addressed the press from GEMA Headquarters Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021 brining up to date all the State’s election results from the U.S. Senatorial runoff. Georgia voters sent the pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church to the U.S. Senate. The Rev. Raphael Warnock, senior shepherd of the same congregation once led by Martin Luther King Jr., will become the first elected Black Democratic senator – not just from Georgia, but from the entire South. Democrat Jon Ossoff claimed victory over Republican incumbent David Perdue in his Senate race. He would become the second Jewish candidate to win a statewide race in modern Georgia -- and the youngest since Joe Biden was elected to the Senate in 1972. (Sam Nunn, elected that same cycle, was 34). (John Spink / John.Spink@ajc.com)

Credit: JOHN SPINK / AJC

Credit: JOHN SPINK / AJC

Gabriel Sterling, now listed at the Chief Operating Officer for the Secretary of State’s office, gets Two Pinocchios from the Washington Post’s Fact Checker after telling PBS that Georgia will be no different from President Joe Biden’s state of Delaware once it bans distributing food and drinks at polling places.

The Post goes into great detail comparing different states’ laws against improper electioneering at polling places, but finishes with this verdict:

“As a clever talking point, this jab falls short. Sterling said Georgia wanted to draw a “bright line,” but he can’t argue that Delaware’s line is just as bright. Sterling earns Two Pinocchios.”

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Lost amid the controversy over Gov. Brian Kemp’s signing of the election bill Thursday was the unanimous Senate passage of a bill to name a bridge near the Port of Savannah for former U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson.

The Ga. 307 bridge crosses the Georgia Ports Authority mega rail site in Garden City. Since the state House has already approved the measure, which was sponsored by Speaker David Ralston, it now goes to Gov. Brian Kemp for his signature.

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Under the Gold Dome (Legislative Day 39):

  • 10:00 am: The Senate convenes;
  • 10:00 am: The House gavels in.

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U.S. Sens. Jon Ossoff, D-Ga., and Raphael Warnock, D-Ga., speak during a "stop Asian hate" rally outside the Georgia State Capitol in Atlanta on Saturday afternoon, March 20, 2021. (AP Photo/Ben Gray)
U.S. Sens. Jon Ossoff, D-Ga., and Raphael Warnock, D-Ga., speak during a "stop Asian hate" rally outside the Georgia State Capitol in Atlanta on Saturday afternoon, March 20, 2021. (AP Photo/Ben Gray)

Credit: Ben Gray

Credit: Ben Gray

Congress is taking its two-week Easter recess, but don’t call it a vacation. U.S. Sens. Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff will both be crisscrossing the state to talk up the COVID-19 relief package that recently passed Congress.

This week Warnock will travel to Ft. Gordon in Augusta, visit with veterans in Savannah, and tour local farms in Peach County, with more stops to be announced.

Ossoff has announced 11 stops this week, including vaccination sites in Atlanta, Macon, Columbus, Savannah, Augusta, and Albany, along with visits to local public schools and swing by Ft. Benning in Columbus.

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U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene has agreed not to block her critics on social media while she’s in office.

The settlement was reached with Ben Meiselas, co-founder of anti-Trump PAC MeidasTouch. He sued Greene in February, accusing her of violating the First Amendment by blocking the Los Angeles-based PAC from her personal Twitter account after it made posts criticizing her.

As part of the settlement, Greene admitted no wrongdoing but agreed to pay $10,000 for Meiselas’ lawyer fees.

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Mayors Hardie Davis, Jr. of Augusta and Van Johnson of Savannah have co-authored a joint op-ed for their hometown newspapers about the benefits they expect from the COVID-19 relief package just passed by Congress.

“Lastly, as city officials, we cannot stress enough the importance of direct aid for states and local governments. Many municipalities have lost revenue, frozen taxes, or refunded business fees to help residents and businesses survive. Most have managed to do so without reducing essential services such as sanitation pickup, public safety layoffs or other service reductions.

“These funds will allow us to continue operations on which residents depend. The passage of President Biden's American Rescue Plan provides a critical lifeline to Georgians desperately in need of help. The once-in-a-generation challenges we are facing affect everyone."

- Savannah Morning News

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School systems across the state are also due to get major cash infusions from the American Rescue Plan.

One example: Floyd County Schools north of Atlanta, which expects $2.4 million, according to the Rome News Tribune. The county school board will meet Monday to discuss how they’ll use the funds:

“This would include programs such as summer school and after school tutoring for students who have fallen behind because of the pandemic.

(Superintendent Glenn White) also suggested the funds could go towards the teaching coaches and interventionists the school system plans to hire for the 2021-2022 school year. These employees will be aiding teachers in the classroom and helping students catch up to their grade level standards."

- Rome News-Tribune

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Former U.S. Sen. Sam Nunn has not served in the Senate since 1997, but his work is still changing the world. That’s not hyperbole, as David Frum writes in, “The Bombs that Never Went Off,” for the Atlantic.

While the rest of us were wrapped up in the all-important 2020 elections, the former Soviet republic of Kazakhstan eliminated its last stores of weapons-grade uranium in September of last year.

The milestone was made possible by legislation passed nearly 30 years ago by Nunn and then-Sen. Richard Lugar as the Soviet Union and its nuclear massive arsenal fell into disarray.

Frum says the two men literally helped save civilization. “Remembrance and gratitude are due.”

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