Georgia governor vows a fight after MLB yanks All-Star Game

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Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp speaks during a news conference at the State Capitol on Saturday, April 3, 2021, in Atlanta, about Major League Baseball's decision to pull the 2021 All-Star Game from Atlanta over the league's objection to a new Georgia voting law. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)

News of Major League Baseball’s decision to pull this summer’s All-Star Game from Georgia over its sweeping new voting law reverberated among fans Saturday, while Gov. Brian Kemp vowed to defend the measure, saying “free and fair elections” are worth any threats, boycotts or lawsuits.

The Republican governor said at a news conference that MLB “caved to fear and lies from liberal activists” when it yanked the July 13 game from Atlanta’s Truist Park. He added the decision will hurt working people in the state and have long-term consequences on the economy.

“I want to be clear: I will not be backing down from this fight. We will not be intimidated, and we will also not be silenced,” Kemp said.

"Major League Baseball, Coca-Cola and Delta may be scared of Stacey Abrams, Joe Biden and the left, but I am not,” he said, referring to companies that have also criticized the new law.

Three groups already have filed a lawsuit over the measure, which adds greater legislative control over how elections are run and includes strict identification requirements for voting absentee by mail. It also limits the use of ballot drop boxes and makes it a crime to hand out food or water to voters waiting in line, among other provisions.

Critics say the law will disproportionately affect communities of color.

Georgia Republicans say the changes were needed to maintain voter confidence in the election system, and the governor insists opponents have mischaracterized what the law does. Yet GOP lawmakers made the revisions largely in response to false claims of fraud in the 2020 elections made by former President Donald Trump and his supporters.

Abrams, who has championed voting rights since narrowly losing to Kemp in the 2018 election, is among those who have spoken out against the law. The Democrat is being closely watched to see if she seeks a 2022 rematch.