Georgia Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams opposed the state’s new election law and gun laws, but she spoke out against corporations using economic sanctions to protest the laws. Yet, a social media post falsely claims Abrams “lobbied to move” the MLB’s All-Star Game out of Atlanta last year and a music festival this year.
In April 2021, Major League Baseball announced it would move the All-Star Game out of Atlanta shortly after Georgia’s Republican Gov. Brian Kemp signed into law election legislation that opponents said would make voting harder, particularly for minorities.
This year, promoters canceled Atlanta’s Music Midtown festival in August after a Georgia court ruling in support of the state’s concealed carry law reportedly prevented organizers from banning guns from the event as it had done in the past.
Now, a social media post falsely blames Abrams for both actions.
“Never forget. Stacey Abrams lobbied to move the Allstars game and Music Midtown. She cost Georgia 150 million plus. Not Kemp,” the Facebook post claimed.
While Abrams, who narrowly lost to Kemp in 2018, has staunchly opposed both the election law and Georgia’s gun laws, she did not push to block either event and publicly sought to keep the All-Star Game in Atlanta.
On March 31, 2021, two days before MLB announced it was moving the All-Star Game and the MLB Draft out of Atlanta, Abrams posted an op-ed in USA Today asking corporations not to use economic sanctions to protest the law because they also hurt average people.
“Instead of a boycott, I strongly urge other events and productions to do business in Georgia and speak out against our law and similar proposals in other states,” Abrams said. “I again repeat my admonition from 2019 that leaving us behind won’t save us. Bring your business to Georgia and, if you’re already here, stay and fight,” she added.
In announcing the decision to move the All-Star Game, MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred said, “Major League Baseball fundamentally supports voting rights for all Americans and opposes restrictions to the ballot box.” The game ended up being played at Coors Field in Denver.
The election law, among other things, cuts off mail-in vote applications 11 days before an election, restricts locations and times for ballot drop-off boxes that had a wider presence and were available 24 hours a day in 2020, and makes it an offense to hand out water to anyone waiting to vote.
Abrams, former minority leader in the Georgia House, said the loss of the MLB events would cost Atlanta $100 million in economic activity and later put the loss of the music festival at $50 million.
“Brian Kemp’s dangerous and extreme gun agenda endangers the lives of Georgians, and the cancellation of Music Midtown is proof that his reckless policies endanger Georgia’s economy as well,” Abrams, who trails Kemp in the polls, said in an Aug. 1 press release.
Abrams’ campaign did not respond to our requests for comment on the social media post.
Live Nation, the live entertainment promoter behind the music festival, also did not respond to requests for comment.
In announcing the cancellation of the Sept. 17-18 event, the festival did not link it directly to Georgia’s gun laws, saying only it was “[d]ue to circumstances beyond our control …”
“We were looking forward to reuniting in September and hope we can all get back to enjoying the festival together again soon,” the festival website said.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution cited officials familiar with the decision as saying the cancellation was linked to continued legal fallout from a court ruling in March that hampered restricting guns from short-term events held on public land.
The Journal-Constitution cited concerns that the festival would be sued by gun owners if it tried to put gun restrictions in place and the possibility some artists would pull out if none were in place. About 50,000 people attended the festival in 2021.
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Nadler, Ben and Jeff Amy. “Georgia Gov. Kemp signs GOP election bill amid an outcry.” Associated Press. 26 Mar 2021.
Capelouto, J.D, Greg Bluestein and Rodney Ho. “Atlanta Music Midtown festival canceled; decision linked to Georgia gun laws.” Atlanta Journal-Constitution. 1 Aug 2022.
Diamond, Jared. “MLB Removes 2021 All-Star Game From Atlanta Because of Georgia Voting Law.” Wall Street Journal. 2 Apr 2021.
Music Midtown. “Festival Update.” Accessed 5 Oct 2022.
FiveThirtyEight.com. “Latest Polls.” Accessed 7 Oct 2022
Layne, Nathan. “Explainer: Big changes under Georgia’s new election law.” Reuters. 14 Jun 2021.
Major League Baseball. “MLB statement regarding 2021 All-Star Game.” MLB.com. 2 Apr 2021.
Rowe, Sonia and Kim Bellware. “Atlanta’s canceled Music Midtown festival puts lax gun laws under scrutiny.” Washington Post. 2 Aug 2022.
Stacey Abrams for Governor Campaign. Press release. “Brian Kemp’s Dangerous Gun Agenda Cost Georgia Music Midtown.” 8 Aug 2022.
Taylor, Jessica. “Georgia’s Stacey Abrams Admits Defeat, Says Kemp Used ‘Deliberate’ Suppression To Win.” NPR. 16 Nov 2018.