MLB Commissioner Robert Manfred said the decision to move the game was “the best way to demonstrate our values as a sport,” citing concerns the GOP-backed legislation could limit voting access. The announcement drew a sharp rebuke from Republicans, who argue the law is essential to ensuring the integrity of Georgia’s elections after a 2020 cycle beset by unproven allegations of widespread fraud.
Local critics include Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp and House Speaker David Ralston, who have vocally supported the law.
“Stacey Abrams’ leftist lies have stolen the All-Star Game from Georgia,” Ralston said, referencing the prominent voting rights activist who opposed the law. “This decision is not only economically harmful, it also robs Georgians of a special celebration of our national pastime free of politics. But Georgia will not be bullied by socialists and their sympathizers. We will continue to stand for accessible, secure elections that are free and fair. And we will continue to speak truth despite extortion and intimidation.”
Georgia lawmakers passed the “Election Integrity Act of 2021” last month on a party-line vote. The law includes restrictions on absentee and mail-in voting, expanded voter ID requirements and restrictions on non-poll workers providing food and drink to voters waiting in line at polling centers.
The bill’s opponents, including Abrams and President Biden, argue it is voter suppression, with a disproportionate impact on people of color.
Kemp said MLB had “caved to fear, political opportunism and liberal lies” in its decision to relocate the game.
“Georgians – and all Americans – should fully understand what the MLB’s knee-jerk decision means: cancel culture and woke political activists are coming for every aspect of your life, sports included,” Kemp said in a statement. “If the left doesn’t agree with you, facts and the truth do not matter.”
Rep. Buddy Parker of Georgia called the decision an attack on “free and fair elections.”
Republican criticism of MLB’s decision wasn’t limited to Georgia. Utah Sen. Mike Lee and South Carolina Rep. Jeff Duncan suggested that Congress should consider revoking the league’s federal antitrust exemption. Duncan said he instructed his staff to begin drafting a bill.
Rep. Dan Crenshaw of Texas said MLB’s decision was a “disgrace.”
Sen. Marco Rubio slammed MLB for announcing the move “on the same week they announce a deal with a company backed by the genocidal Communist Party of #China.”
Manfred said MLB would announce its new host city shortly. The Atlanta Braves, who were set to host the All-Star Game at their home stadium, Truist Park, said they were “deeply disappointed” with the decision.
Earlier this week, President Biden referred to Georgia’s voting law as “Jim Crow on steroids” and said he would “strongly support” a decision to relocate the game. Biden won the state of Georgia by a narrow margin during the 2020 presidential election.