COBB COUNTY, Ga. - At a Cobb County seafood restaurant near Truist Park on Saturday morning, Gov. Brian Kemp, Republican officials and a group of supporters lamented to potential boon the 2021 MLB All-Star Game could have been for business in the area in July.
Major League Baseball publicly pulled the game from Atlanta and relocated it to Denver, Colorado, in the weeks after Kemp signed a bill to reform elections into law. Kemp has been vocal that the "Election Integrity Act of 2021" is not suppressing votes. Kemp emphasized again on Saturday, as he has since SB 202 became law, that the bill expands the number of days offered for early in-person voting.
His common refrain is the law "makes it easy to vote and hard to cheat," a direct quote from the text of the bill. There are now 17 mandatory in-person early voting days, which Kemp said expands early voting in 134 of 159 counties.
MLB All-Star Game move hurts small business, Kemp says
Kemp's focus on Saturday was less about defending the law's contents, but on unjust circumstances he said Georgia business owners are facing since the All-Star Game moved venues.
"It's been minority-owned businesses that were impacted most (during the pandemic) by no fault of their own," Kemp said at a podium in a Cobb restaurant on Saturday. "Now, they are affected by this decision ... at no fault of their own."
SEE ALSO: What is in Georgia's new election law?
The trickle-down effect is apparent, he said, when local restaurants cut down orders on supplies they needed to prepare for the influx prior to the game.
"I believe we're on the right side of fighting for the little guy," he said.
Georgia Attorney General Chis Carr, tasked with defending the bill in court, said Georgia is still a reliable place for businesses to call home, despite public cries for boycotts of companies that retroactively spoke out against the Election Integrity Act in the days after it became law.
Carr urged businesses not to make their decisions to settle in Georgia for political reasons.
"Make sure it's going to be based on our workforce, Hartsfiel-Jackson (Atlanta International Airport), our university system," Carr said.
Before the 2021 ML All-Starr Game changed venues, Cobb County Commission Chairwoman Lisa Cupid appealed to MLB and its players not to move the site.
"I recognize that some don't want to play baseball here in Cobb County because our state legislators have not played fair, and I agree," Cupid said.
Georgia election law debate rages on
The debate of the new election laws has been public for weeks, now. Opponents of new laws have pointed to decreased access to drop boxes since the 2020 election and the prohibition of providing refreshments to voters in line as examples of a reduction in liberty brought on by new laws. Advocates maintain these are security measures.
The public debates will soon become legal ones. The state faces a handful of lawsuits.
Carr said Saturday he did not have a timeline when those cases would be addressed in court.
"We've got five right now and I don't want to speak to the specifics of any one," Carr said. "It's tough to tell right now."
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