Atlanta Mayor: State GOP, Governor Created Bad Situation With Voting Law Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms speaks at a press conference on March 17, 2021 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Megan Varner/Getty Images)
By Sandy Fitzgerald | Monday, 05 April 2021 01:32 PM
Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms said Monday she understands and respects the decision by Major League Baseball to pull its All-Star Game and draft out of her city to protest the state's new voting law, but she doesn't like the position the state's Republican lawmakers and governor have put their state in.
"This is a tough one," Bottoms, a Democrat, said on "CBS This Morning." "The metro Atlanta economy is the 10th-largest economy in the nation, so when you talk about boycotts in and around Atlanta and the state as a whole, it's impacting small businesses. It impacts corporations that hire not just corporate officers but administrative assistance, people who clean up the building, work in the cafeteria."
MLB Commissioner Robert Manfred last week said the league was relocating its 2021 All-Star Game and MLB Draft from Atlanta, after an outcry over Georgia's new voting restrictions.
Several other major Georgia companies have spoken out against the new law, including Coca-Cola and Delta, leading Republicans, including former President Donald Trump, to demand a boycott on such businesses and against the baseball league.
Georgia's new law, passed after outcry from Republicans after Trump's loss to President Joe Biden there, strengthened identification requirements for absentee ballots, outlaws "electioneering" such as offering food and water to voters waiting in line, and other actions. Biden has dubbed the legislation as "Jim Crow on steroids" and critics say it hinders Black people, the poor, and others when it comes to voting.
Bottoms said Monday that she knows there are further large-scale events who are openly contemplating whether to keep their activities in Georgia and if they pull out, that could prove devastating.
"Tourism is one of the largest industries in our state," Bottoms said. "Delta Airlines is one of the largest employers in our state, so this will have a devastating impact."
The back-and-forth over the voting law and the potential for further boycotts is also ironic, considering they are coming as the state's economy has been reopening.
"With just one signature, that's all been wiped out," Bottoms said of Gov. Brian Kemp who signed the legislation.
"It's not too late for the governor and the legislators to go back and do something differently," she added."They can go back in January, they can fix this very broken and ill-conceived law, or they can perhaps even go into special sessions over the next few months and make tweaks that will allow us to continue to be the open and welcoming state that we claim to be."
Meanwhile, Kemp and state Republican lawmakers say they are not backing down on the law, and Bottoms said she is "absolutely concerned" their stance will backfire, as the All-Star Game and Draft are the first of many events that will be pulled from Atlanta and Georgia.
"We are home to almost 30 Fortune 500 companies in the metropolitan Atlanta area, an area that voted very heavily Democrat back in November and in January," said Bottoms. "It's unfortunate. We have had loss contemplated in the past, threatened boycotts, but we've had governors in the past who vetoed those laws. This governor has doubled down."
Bottoms said she'd still like for corporations to keep speaking out, as many have already done, and say they support access to open voting and that the law is not good for Georgia as a whole.
"I think at this point that is all they can do," she said. "Actually, there is a little more. I know many corporations who have already said that they will not support candidates with financial support who supported this law. So it looks like it's going to be a very long and painful fight all the way around. But again, there's an opportunity to fix this. You have to know when to hold, you have to know when to fold. This is hurting our state, the economy of our state, and that's not good for anyone no matter what side of the aisle you are on."