Georgia Governor Brian Kemp said that a decision by Major League Baseball to move an All-Stars Game from Atlanta in protest at voter restriction laws will disproportionately impact minority-owned businesses.
Kemp made the remarks following the MLB’s decision last Tuesday to pull the game from Atlanta and instead have it played in Denver, Colorado.
Kemp has defended the laws, claiming they ensure election security, and has pointed to Democrat-controlled states where they are more restrictive. And in comments Saturday he criticized the MLB for the stance it has taken.
“It’s minority-owned businesses that have been hit harder than most because of an invisible virus by no fault of their own,” Kemp said, as quoted by the Associated Press. “And these are the same minority businesses that are now being impacted by another decision that is by no fault of their own,” he added.
The claim that the MLB’s boycott, and opposition to the voting laws by corporations including Coc-Cola and Delta, will end up damaging Black communities economically has emerged as a key Republican response to criticism of the laws.
But Democratic activist and gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams, who is credited with devising the strategy that allowed the Democrats to flip the state in 2020, has also reportedly opposed the decision by the MLB to pull the game out of the state.
Victor Matheson, an economics professor at the College of the Holy Cross, in comments to The Guardian last week questioned said claims by some Atlanta officials that the cancellation could result in the loss of $100 million in revenue were overblown.
“There is some loss, so it’s not zero, but it’s a whole lot closer to zero than the $100m number Atlanta was throwing around,” he remarked.
GOP Gov. Brian Kemp of Georgia suggested in a Newsmax interview earlier this week that voters waiting in line to vote could order food from online delivery apps like Grubhub or Uber Eats, as he continues to face blowback for the 2021 MLB All-Star Game leaving the state over its newly-enacted voting law.
The law, known as the Election Integrity Act of 2021 or SB 202, tightens election rules in the state by limiting drop boxes, strengthening voter identification requirements, and banning water and food from being distributed by volunteers to voters waiting in line, among other measures. It has been slammed by prominent Democrats including President Joe Biden and former Georgia state House Minority Leader and potential 2022 gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams.
Several major companies – including Coca-Cola and Delta – have spoken out against the bill or voter suppression more broadly, which has upset Kemp and most statewide Republicans, who say the law is being distorted.
“They can order a pizza,” Kemp said of voters waiting to vote. “They can order Grubhub or Uber Eats, right?”
He added: “The county officials can provide water stations. This is just within 150 feet of the precinct. If you’re 151 feet, campaigns can set up tables, food trucks … they can hang up flyers and set up signs. This is all they [Democrats] have to grasp at.”
Kemp then accused Democratic-led jurisdictions of bungling their own election administration.
“The question too that you need to ask … Why are voters standing in line that long?,” he said. “It’s because it’s in Democratic-controlled counties. They need to do a better job of running their elections and moving people through the lines so that they’re not standing out there so long. Voters should be furious that that’s the case.”
Last year, a ProPublica and Georgia Public Broadcasting investigation found that the cause of the state’s voting issues were the state’s population growth, which has been accelerated by new residents in the blue-trending Atlanta suburbs, along with a failure to increase the number of polling precincts.
The report showed that while the state’s voting rolls had increased by 2 million people since 2013, polling locations have declined by 10 percent, especially in the populous Atlanta metropolitan region.
GOP Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger asked for additional resources and polling precincts after being elected in 2018, but was unable to push legislation through the GOP-led legislature before the 2020 presidential election, which saw Biden win the state by roughly 12,000 votes.
During the Democratic presidential primary held in the state last June, The Guardian spoke with Simone Alisa, an Atlanta voter who waited for five hours to vote after initially expecting that she might only have to wait 30 minutes.
“Something’s wrong with this picture,” she said after finally casting her vote.
Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms on Friday said that Major League Baseball’s decision to move the All-Star Game out of Georgia over its controversial new voting law is “likely” the start of more actions taken against the state.
“Just as elections have consequences, so do the actions of those who are elected,” she wrote. “Unfortunately, the removal of the MLB All Star game from GA is likely the 1st of many dominoes to fall, until the unnecessary barriers put in place to restrict access to the ballot box are removed.”
She added: “Boycotts in GA will hit the metro Atlanta hardest and have a ripple effect across the state. Small businesses, corporations that support our communities, and everyday working people will suffer. It is not too late to right this sinking ship.
MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred expressed on Friday that the decision to move the All-Star Game and MLB Draft was “the best way to demonstrate our values as a sport.”
“Major League Baseball fundamentally supports voting rights for all Americans and opposes restrictions to the ballot box,” he said in a statement. “Fair access to voting continues to have our game’s unwavering support.”
Since the law’s passage on March 25, major corporations, including Delta Airlines and Coca-Cola under pressure from politicians and activists, have more forcefully come out against its restrictive measures.
The conservative-backed law tightens election rules in the state by limiting drop boxes, strengthening voter identification requirements, blocking the usage of mobile voting vans, and even banning water and food from being distributed to voters waiting in line, among other measures.
GOP Gov. Brian Kemp, who signed the bill into law, flatly rejects claims that it reinforces voter suppression and said that the law makes it “easy to vote and hard to cheat.”
Kemp continued to express his displeasure with the situation on Twitter, lashing out at prominent Democrats.
“This attack on our state is the direct result of repeated lies from [President] Joe Biden and [former Georgia state House Minority Leader] Stacey Abrams about a bill that expands access to the ballot box and ensures the integrity of our elections,” he wrote. “I will not back down. Georgians will not be bullied. We will continue to stand up for secure, accessible, fair elections.”
Abrams, who was narrowly defeated by Kemp in the state’s 2018 gubernatorial race and could potentially run against the incumbent governor in 2022, said on Friday that she was “disappointed” by the move but was “proud” of the MLB’s support of voting rights.
“Like many Georgians, I am disappointed that the MLB is relocating the All-Star game; however, I commend the players, owners and League commissioner for speaking out,” she said in a statement. “As I have stated, I respect boycotts, although I don’t want to see Georgia families hurt by lost events and jobs. Georgians targeted by voter suppression will be hurt as opportunities go to other states. We should not abandon the victims of GOP malice and lies – we must stand together.”
Former President Barack Obama on Saturday praised the decision, making a nod to the late baseball icon Hank Aaron, who faced racial threats throughout his professional baseball career.
“Congratulations to MLB for taking a stand on behalf of voting rights for all citizens,” he wrote. “There’s no better way for America’s pastime to honor the great Hank Aaron, who always led by example.”
As of Saturday, MLB has not revealed the new host city for the 2021 All-Star Game.
Georgia quickly found itself in the crosshairs of then-President Donald Trump in the aftermath of the 2020 election. Joe Biden narrowly won the state and its 16 electoral votes, helping bolster his progressive mandate, but Trump did not let the state go to Biden without a fight.
Delta Air Lines, as Atlanta’s hometown airline and one of the largest companies in the state, took an interest in the bill and said it worked with the government to bar its “most egregious measures.” After its passage, Delta CEO Ed Bastian commented favorably on aspects of the legislation and lauded the efforts of Atlanta’s business community in shaping its outcome.
“The legislation signed this week improved considerably during the legislative process, and expands weekend voting, codifies Sunday voting and protects a voter’s ability to cast an absentee ballot without providing a reason,” Bastian said in a March 26 memo.
Delta’s response immediately sparked controversy as the airline was seen as supportive of the bill that included what opponents call voter suppression methods. Among others, the law requires a voter to present identification to vote absentee and the window for requesting an absentee ballot is shortened, as Insider’s Grace Panetta reported.
Bastian’s statement stunned industry observers that had been closely following Delta’s great strides in the area of diversity, equity, and inclusion over the years.
“Even before the George Floyd incident, Delta had been talking about the need to hire, mentor, provide professional development opportunities, and promote women and people of color and other groups who were underrepresented in Delta’s leadership,” Henry Harteveldt, travel industry analyst and co-founder of Atmosphere Research Group, told Insider.
Bastian, in response to the backlash, took a stronger position against the bill in a Wednesday memo.
“However, I need to make it crystal clear that the final bill is unacceptable and does not match Delta’s values,” Bastian clarified.
“The entire rationale for this bill was based on a lie: that there was widespread voter fraud in Georgia in the 2020 elections,” Bastian said. “This is simply not true.”
But by the time the Delta chief changed course, the hashtag #BoycottDelta had already gone viral on Twitter with more than 38,000 tweets mentioning the call to action, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Kemp also pushed back on Delta’s statement, saying: “Today’s statement by Delta CEO Ed Bastian stands in stark contrast to our conversations with the company, ignores the content of the new law, and unfortunately continues to spread the same false attacks being repeated by partisan activists.”
Inside Delta’s turbulent public relations week
Richard Levick, chairman and CEO of crisis management firm Levick, told Insider that the roots of Delta’s poor handling of the issue can trace back to the US Capitol Building riots and the George Floyd protests last year.
“[Delta] clearly missed, surprisingly, the import of what happened January 6 and thereafter in terms of companies pausing their [political action committees],” Levick said. “And they didn’t see the permanency of some of that.”
Levick likened the airline’s first statement to “sharpening the blade on the guillotine and saying, ‘look how much better we’ve made it.'”
Veteran communicators told Insider that Wednesday’s follow-up statement that unequivocally denounced the bill was the right move but Levick said the company should have been on the offensive early on, either by condemning the bill in its first statement or taken itself out of the bill’s formation.
Shying away from the spotlight also wasn’t really an option as Levick said that companies have to realize that we’re in a new era where they’re expected to take action in defense of important American institutions.
“They’re not going to have to take a position on everything political, they are going to have to realize that issues regarding race, access, democracy are things where there’s an expectation of their involvement or at least not their involvement on the wrong side,” Levick said.
“There is no longer brand neutrality on voter suppression,” according to Levick.
Delta is also too influential of an employer in Georgia not to get involved in landmark legislation in the state, even if the subject is outside of its primary purview of connecting the world through travel.
“The challenge with being a leader in any industry is that you’re a leader and so, you’re expected to be involved in things that a lot of other companies aren’t involved in,” John McDonald, a former American Airlines vice president for corporate communications and public affairs, told Insider. “You’re expected to make influential decision-making on subjects that aren’t necessarily core to your business.”
Levick says Delta should have let Bastian’s condemnation of the bill shine instead of bogging down the media with additional stories unless the airline had a genuine business reason for announcing its new policies when it did. March 31 was the end of 2021’s first fiscal quarter and it might just have been bad timing, McDonald said.
Delta now risks losing the goodwill that it has built up over the years stemming from its innovations in the industry and keen focus on social issues.
Staring down a potential boycott from its most influential customers
Individuals promising to boycott Delta won’t impact the airline’s operations too greatly. Consumers have reliably shown that they will book the cheapest and most convenient travel option, and Delta will often meet those criteria for many Georgians.
But if the business community turns it back on Delta, that could deal a serious blow to the airline’s bottom line. “Only when you get corporate accounts or large volume accounts that represent millions of dollars or more in business to an airline would any kind of a boycott really be meaningful,” Harteveldt said.
Dozens of Black executives have already spoken out against Georgia-based companies like Delta for not doing more to oppose the law, and a full boycott of the airline’s services could damage the airline. Corporate accounts are incredibly lucrative as firms spend top dollar when booking flights on everything from costly last-minute tickets to premium cabin seats for executives.
Bastian’s initial comments also impacted Delta employees.
“I think that Delta’s employees of color feel very let down by this,” Harteveldt said. “Over the weekend, I heard a lot from a lot of Delta employees, frontline workers, management, many workers who felt that the airline betrayed the values that it holds so dear.”
And it’s exactly those workers that Delta should have considered when issuing the first statement.
“I have to think that Delta looked at this largely through a public affairs lens and not through that broader, diverse, fully integrated lens that brought in other internal audience members and [asked], ‘how do you see this?'” Levick said.
McDonald noted, however, that these types of statements are often the result of discussions with politicians. All sides likely wanted to come out of this looking good and likely coordinated on what to say and how to say it.
But the public break between Delta and the state government has already yielded repercussions. Georgia’s House of Representatives on Wednesday night voted to repeal a tax on jet fuel that greatly benefits Delta, which has its largest hub at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.
If passed by the Georgia Senate and signed into law by Kemp, Delta will be forced to pay more in fuel costs in the state, a costly expense that would come as the airline attempts a financial recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.
A cautionary tale for airlines
As more states take on the issue of voter rights in their legislatures, major companies will have to take note and Delta won’t be the last airline forced to take a side on this issue. American Airlines took a stand on similar legislation passed in Texas on Thursday, boldly proclaiming: “To make American’s stance clear: We are strongly opposed to this bill and others like it.”
As for Delta’s next move, Levick suggested the airline should do nothing more and hold firm in its condemnation.
“Don’t just do something, stand there,” Levick said.
Al Cárdenas, a longtime Republican strategist who once led the organization that oversees CPAC, said Sunday that GOP bills to curtail voting rights are Republican leaders’ attempt to appeal to the Trump-obsessed wing of the party.
“These 20 some voter reform laws being proposed in all of these states are all about providing cotton candy to the far-right base that believed the Donald Trump big lie about the election being fraudulent,” Cardenas, the leader of the American Conservative Union from 2011 to 2014, said during an appearance on NBC News’ “Meet the Press” on Sunday.
“Most of the voter suppression that takes place is run under the radar of laws and so forth,” he added. He referenced ProPublica data that showed voters in predominantly white areas of Georgia waited to vote eight times less often than voters in communities that were majority Black during the June 2020 primary election.
Cárdenas, now a senior partner at the Ohio-based Squire Patton Boggs law firm, pointed toward the number of polling stations, poll workers, and polling machines as examples of how minority voters can be supressed.
“I agree that we need to have a revamp of the Voting Rights Act,” he said of the landmark 1964 law that was in 2013 gutted by the Supreme Court. “If it was timely in the 60s, it’s even more timely now. But you need to look more at voter suppression at the local level – that’s where it really hits hard.”
A number of states with Republican leaders at the helm are considering bills to overhaul their voting systems.
The most prominent piece of legislation so far was a controversial bill signed last week into law in Georgia by Republican Gov. Brian Kemp. The bill followed Georgia leaders, including Kemp, repeated rebuke of Trump’s false claims about widespread fraud in the state after his loss there.
The Georgia law introduces a number of changes, including one that makes it illegal to give food or water to people waiting in line to vote and another that limits the number of ballot drop-off boxes allowed.
Florida lawmakers are considering a controversial bill that would ban ballot drop boxes, would require more-frequent requests for mail-in ballots, and would only allow immediate family to handle someone’s ballot, according to the Orlando Sentinel.
GOP Gov. Brian Kemp of Georgia on Thursday signed into law SB 202, the state’s sweeping and highly-controversial voting bill, against the backdrop of the grounds of a former slave plantation, according to a historical connection made by Philadelphia Inquirer columnist Will Bunch.
The revelation comes as leaders such as President Joe Biden, US Senator Raphael Warnock of Georgia, and former Georgia state House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams, civil rights groups, and national Democratic-aligned organizations band together to protest the newly-signed law, which has been criticized for targeting the state’s large bloc of Black voters.
Kemp signed the bill in his private office as he was surrounded by six GOP lawmakers, with a painting called “Brickhouse Road – Callaway PLNT” by Siberian-born artist Olessia Maximenko in the background.
The grounds of the Callaway Plantation, located in Wilkes County, in the northeastern part of the state between Athens and Augusta, appear to be depicted in the painting.
In 1869, after the end of the Civil War, the Brick House, which is seen in the painting, was completed.
The site is now “a 56-acre historic restoration project” that “offers a glimpse into the bygone era of working plantations in the agricultural South,” according to the Foundation.
In a document, the Georgia Council for the Arts describes a partnership with the office of the governor to display “354 works of art” in the executive offices at the state Capitol and the Governor’s Mansion in order “to capture the diversity and uniqueness of communities and natural terrain throughout Georgia as seen, explored, and depicted through the artist’s eye.”
Kemp approving the widely-criticized voting bill with the backdrop of such imagery was called out by Bunch, which gained additional significance after state Rep. Park Cannon, a Black woman, was arrested for knocking on the governor’s door during the private bill signing.
“The promotional sites gloss over the fact that by the time of the Civil War, the Callaway Plantation only thrived because of the back-breaking labor of at least 100 enslaved people and perhaps many more who were held in cruel human bondage,” Bunch wrote in his column.
He added: “The Callaway Plantation is a monument to Georgia’s history of brutal white supremacy that unfortunately didn’t disappear when … enslaved people were emancipated in 1865. By the 1890s, Georgia’s white ruling class enacted a series of harsh Jim Crow laws to segregate all public facilities and block most Black people from voting.”
Biden on Friday slammed the new law as a “blatant attack on the Constitution” and further described it as “Jim Crow in the 21st century.”
The new law contains provisions that limit drop box usage, reduce the amount of time between general elections and runoff elections, block the use of mobile voting vans, and criminalize handing out water or food to voters waiting in line at polling precincts.
In both the 2020 primary election and early voting periods, many voters, especially in majority-Black areas in Atlanta, had to endure long lines in order to vote.
Kemp responded to Biden’s comments, alleging that “it is obvious” the president has not read the bill.
“There is nothing ‘Jim Crow’ about requiring a photo or state-issued ID to vote by absentee ballot – every Georgia voter must already do so when voting in-person,” he said in a statement. “President Biden, the left, and the national media are determined to destroy the sanctity and security of the ballot box.”
Georgia state Rep. Park Cannon was arrested on Thursday and charged with felony obstruction as Georgia’s Gov. Brian Kemp signed a controversial new voting reform bill into law.
Cannon was detained after knocking on Kemp’s door.
Kemp, a Republican, was announcing the signing of the bill over a live stream when he was interrupted by Cannon, a Democrat. Cannon’s arrest was also captured during a live stream, as the lawmaker was joined by others who came to the state Capitol in Atlanta to protest the bill.
According to a statement provided to Insider from Georgia State Patrol, Cannon continued to knock on the door after police told her to stop.
“She was advised that she was disturbing what was going on inside and if she did not stop, she would be placed under arrest,” the statement said. After knocking more, police said she was again told she would be arrested for obstruction and removed from the building.
Videos posted on Twitter showed the moment of the arrest. Cannon can be seen talking with a police officer who is standing between her and the door. She takes a step back from the door, before again stepping up to knock and is immediately arrested by two officers.
Others present immediately begin protesting the arrest, with one asking, “Under arrest for what? For trying to see something that our governor is doing?”
“Our governor is signing a bill that affects all Georgians, and you’re going to arrest an elected representative?” the person said.
Police said Cannon was moved to the Fulton County Jail and charged with obstruction of law enforcement, a felony, and preventing or disrupting General Assembly sessions or meetings of members, a misdemeanor.
US Sen. Raphael Warnock of Georgia visited Cannon while she was being held in jail, his office told CNN.
Cannon’s office didn’t immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.
Just after midnight, she posted on Twitter: “Hey everyone, thank you for your support. I’ve been released from jail. I am not the first Georgian to be arrested for fighting voter suppression. I’d love to say I’m the last, but we know that isn’t true.”
All ten living former defense secretaries — both Republicans and Democrats — wrote a Washington Post editorial urging President Donald Trump to refrain from using the military to interfere in the election.
The signatories stressed that involving the military in election disputes could result in criminal charges.
Trump has repeatedly suggested that there may not be a “peaceful transfer of power” and has reportedly entertained suggestions that the military step in to help him dispute the election.
Nearly a dozen former defense secretaries published a Washington Post editorial on Sunday, warning President Donald Trump of the dangers of using the military to dispute the election.
The editorial, titled “Involving the military in election disputes would cross into dangerous territory,” was signed by all ten living former defense secretaries, including two who served under President Trump, Mark Esper and James Mattis.
Other signees included Leon Panetta, Chuck Hagel, and Ashton Carter, who served under Barack Obama; Robert Gates, who served under Obama and George W. Bush; William Cohen and William Perry, who served under Bill Clinton; Dick Cheney, who served as DOD secretary under George H.W. Bush; and Donald Rumsfeld, who served first under Gerald Ford in 1975 and was later tapped for the role under George W. Bush.
The letter urged the president to accept the results of the election and stressed that the military should not be used to fulfill political ends.
“American elections and the peaceful transfers of power that result are hallmarks of our democracy,” they wrote in The Washington Post, adding that the administration should “refrain from any political actions that undermine the results of the election or hinder the success of the new team.”
“The time for questioning the results has passed; the time for the formal counting of the electoral college votes, as prescribed in the Constitution and statute, has arrived,” the letter continued.
The former secretaries also cautioned that anyone found to be interfering in the election could potentially be subject to criminal charges.
“Efforts to involve the US armed forces in resolving election disputes would take us into dangerous, unlawful, and unconstitutional territory,” they wrote. “Civilian and military officials who direct or carry out such measures would be accountable, including potentially facing criminal penalties, for the grave consequences of their actions on our republic.”
The editorial offered a direct message to Acting Secretary of Defense Christopher Miller, who in December halted meetings with President-elect Joe Biden’s transition team. Miller claimed meetings weren’t canceled, but had been delayed because of the holidays.
Biden transition director Yohannes Abraham told Axios, however, that no holiday contingency plans had been made.
“Let me be clear: there was no mutually agreed-upon holiday break,” he said.
“Acting defense secretary Christopher C. Miller and his subordinates – political appointees, officers and civil servants – are each bound by oath, law, and precedent to facilitate the entry into office of the incoming administration, and to do so wholeheartedly,” the editorial said. “They must also refrain from any political actions that undermine the results of the election or hinder the success of the new team.”
Hagel, one of Obama’s DOD secretaries, told the Post on Sunday that he initially thought writing such an editorial would be an overreaction, but then reconsidered.
“This is a fundamental element of our democracy, and it lands squarely in the responsibilities of defense officials,” Hagel said. “I thought, in the end, that this was something that was important that we do.”
Trump’s inner circle has suggested imposing martial law
Rumblings about Trump’s desire to use the military to intervene in the election began in September after Trump refused to commit to a “peaceful transfer of power.” Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley was asked by Congress what, if any, role the military should have in the election.
“I believe deeply in the principle of an apolitical US military,” Milley said. “In the event of a dispute over some aspect of the elections, by law, US courts and the US Congress are required to resolve any disputes, not the US military. I foresee no role for the US armed forces in this process.”
The idea was once again brought up by Trump’s former national security adviser Michael Flynn, who appeared on the conservative channel Newsmax on December 18 to suggest that the military be brought in to “rerun” the election.
“He could order the, within the swing states, if he wanted to, he could take military capabilities, and he could place those in states and basically rerun an election in each of those states. It’s not unprecedented,” Flynn told host Greg Kelley.
On Friday, Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp tweeted images of himself and his daughter, Lucy, taking pictures amidst the lavish holiday decor at the White House.
Despite the festivities, Trump is still incensed with Kemp for not helping him overturn the presidential election results in Georgia, which saw President-elect Joe Biden capture the state by a little over 12,000 votes.
The governor posted the White House photo just hours after Trump questioned his conservative credentials, as well as those of GOP Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger.
Despite President Donald Trump’s withering attacks against Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp over certifying President-elect Joe Biden’s presidential win in the state, his invitation to a White House Christmas party didn’t get lost in the mail.
On Friday, the Republican governor tweeted images of himself and his daughter, Lucy, taking pictures amidst the holiday decor and festivities at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
“Lucy and I had a great time at the @WhiteHouse Christmas Party today,” Kemp wrote. “Merry Christmas, everyone!”
Kemp has drawn the ire of Trump and many rank-and-file Republicans and activists for what they perceive as a lack of support in investigating unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud in the state.
The governor posted the White House photo just hours after Trump questioned his conservative credentials, as well as those of Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, another favorite GOP target of the president.
“The Secretary of State and Governor of Georgia, both so-called ‘Republicans’, aren’t allowing Fulton County to go through the vital Voter Signature Verification process,” Trump wrote. “Also, they are not allowing Republican ‘watchers’ to be present and verify!”
Last week, the president once again slammed Kemp, retweeting a post from attorney Lin Wood that called for the governor and Raffensperger to be imprisoned for not challenging the election results in the state.
“President Trump @realDonaldTrump is a genuinely good man,” Wood wrote. “He does not really like to fire people. I bet he dislikes putting people in jail, especially ‘Republicans.’ He gave @BrianKempGA & @GaSecofState every chance to get it right. They refused. They will soon be going to jail.”
Biden’s narrow victory in the state was confirmed through an initial count and two reviews. On December 14, the Electoral College met in Atlanta and certified the state’s 16 Electoral College votes for the president-elect.
Still, Kemp has borne the brunt of attacks from Trump.
During a November interview with Fox Business host Maria Bartiromo, the president said that he was “ashamed” to have endorsed Kemp in his 2018 gubernatorial campaign against Democratic nominee Stacey Abrams.
Earlier in December, Trump called Kemp for help in overturning the election results, arguing that the governor could hold a special legislative session that would install pro-Trump electors.
Kemp declined to call the state legislature back into session.
Georgia Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan, a Republican, on Tuesday said that the President Donald Trump’s legal battles contesting the results of the 2020 election could hurt the party’s “brand of conservatism.”
During a CNN interview with host Erin Burnett, Duncan pleaded with the party to concentrate on winning the state’s Senate runoff elections in January instead of devoting resources to the Trump campaign’s string of unsuccessful lawsuits to overturn the election results.
Duncan, who was elected to his position in 2018, has accepted President-elect Joe Biden’s win, while most of his party has either chosen to remain silent on the matter or deny the Democrat’s victory. The lieutenant governor has rejected efforts to both prove fealty to Trump and spread debunked claims of voter fraud.
“It’s time for us as a country and as a party to move on,” Duncan said. “I’m very, very worried that this affects our brand of conservatism. The Republican Party, we’ve got good days in front of us. We need to keep looking for opportunities to improve.”
In a direct criticism of Trump’s online behavior, he added: “We need to communicate better. Two hundred and eighty characters on Twitter is not enough for us to be able to communicate to America, and especially those folks that maybe aren’t with us on every single issue.”
The disconnect between Duncan and most of the GOP was thrust into the national spotlight when the president on Monday attacked the lieutenant governor on Twitter, calling him “a RINO Never Trumper who got himself elected as LG by falsely claiming to be ‘pro-Trump'” and “too dumb or corrupt to recognize massive evidence of fraud.”
A “RINO” is a pejorative term generally reserved for members of the GOP who aren’t considered to be true conservatives.
Duncan responded by praising Trump’s time in office and then acknowledging his election loss. He also pushed for the GOP to mobilize for Sens. Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue, who face stiff challenges from Democrats Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff, respectively, in two key races that will determine control of the Senate.
“Thank you for 4 years of conservative leadership @realdonaldtrump,” he tweeted. “You’ve proven that a business minded outsider can be effective in DC and your legacy will last a generation in our Supreme Ct. Let’s agree that re-electing Kelly Loeffler & David Perdue should be your top priority.”
Trump has repeatedly slammed Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp for unproven allegations of voter irregularities in the state, something that the Republican leader has rejected. On December 5, the president spoke with Kemp by phone to persuade the governor to call a special legislative session to overturn the election results and install pro-Trump Electoral College electors.
Kemp declined to take up Trump’s demand.
On December 8, Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, also a frequent Trump target, recertified the state’s election results showing that Biden defeated Trump in the presidential race. The president-elect won the state by a little over 12,000 votes, edging out Trump in the longtime GOP stronghold and securing its 16 electoral votes.
“Unfortunately, the guy I voted for did not win,” Duncan told CNN. “The person I campaigned for did not win.”