Stacey Abrams? The same Stacey Abrams who’s been telling voters in Georgia ahead of her next run for governor in 2022 that she’s against boycotts for fear of the economic damage they’ll do to lower-income workers?
She couldn’t be saying one thing to the public and another to business leaders behind closed doors, could she?
Actually, I’m skeptical. For one reason: If she egged MLB on privately to yank the All-Star Game and then turned around and cut a video for public consumption disagreeing with the move, baseball executives would have ratted her out to the press, no? They would have resented taking an unpopular action at her behest only to find her on the other side of the dispute once the deed was done. They would have leaked. And so far, no one has.
SCOOP: @MLB sources say owners were blindsided at least by the timing of @RobManfred‘s decision to pull the All-Star game from Atlanta. Also said his decision came after speaking w @staceyabrams, which is odd since she has now said she’s against the boycott. Story developing
— Charles Gasparino (@CGasparino) April 7, 2021
It’s possible that Abrams asked him not to pull the game and Manfred went ahead with it anyway, knowing that the dispute otherwise would have pitted players against each other eventually. It’s also possible that Manfred was initially inclined to keep the game in Atlanta on Abrams’s advice but then got spooked after Biden said he’d “strongly support” moving it.
In fact, as I’m writing this, an Atlanta Journal-Constitution reporter is claiming that Abrams *did* lobby Manfred to keep the game in Atlanta:
I’m told that @staceyabrams spoke to an @MLB senior adviser and “strongly” urged the league to keep the All-Star game in Atlanta before the decision to yank the event. She also argued against a boycott before MLB’s move in a @USATODAY op-ed and @AJC interview last week. #gapol
— Greg Bluestein (@bluestein) April 7, 2021
Maybe that’s Abrams’s camp leaking to do some CYA but it makes sense that she’d try to talk MLB out of moving the game, honestly. The whole reason she and Jon Ossoff are anti-boycott is because they know Democratic politicians are at risk locally if the public comes to blame the party for economic damage inflicted by “woke” activists. The boycott doesn’t do her any favors in her next gubernatorial run. In fact, she probably calculated that if she could talk Manfred into keeping the game in Georgia and have him publicly credit her for that, it’d be a feather in her cap. It would prove her influence in the state once again, in case there was any doubt about that after Biden, Ossoff, and Raphael Warnock won their races, and it would earn her the gratitude of the tourist industry. It might even have struck up a partnership between her and MLB: In return for Abrams publicly defending the league’s decision to stay put in Atlanta against progressive critics, baseball might have rewarded her activist groups and voter-registration efforts with cash.
Manfred could have had all that — but he yanked the game instead. Increasingly I find it hard to believe that he would have followed through if Biden hadn’t publicly condoned the idea.
Anyway, MLB may decide to throw some cash around anyway:
Also hearing @MLB working on a possible “solution” to after criticism that moving the All Star game out of Atl will be devastating to minority businesses will address that as well now @FoxBusiness https://t.co/UhQBoVn4d7
— Charles Gasparino (@CGasparino) April 7, 2021
They’re gonna have to do something for businesses, especially black-owned businesses, in Atlanta after deciding that an empty gesture of protest against the new election law was worth withdrawing tens of millions of tourism dollars from the area. The question is whether they want Abrams involved in that. She’s a divisive figure in her own right, after all. She would have been useful to the league as an ally against the left if they had kept the All-Star Game in Atlanta, but now that they’ve bugged out and made enemies of the right, I don’t know that an Abrams partnership helps them. When you’re accused of having sided with the left in a culture-war flashpoint, the logical response to counter that perception isn’t “Call Stacey Abrams.”
I’ll leave you with Georgia’s Republican lieutenant governor, Geoff Duncan, observing that he didn’t see any effort locally to overhaul the state’s election laws until Rudy Giuliani showed up and started pushing “stop the steal” propaganda. That’s why Democrats are suspicious of the new law: It’s not “Jim Crow 2.0,” their many claims to the contrary, but it does come out of a populist disinformation campaign to blame Republicans’ recent losses there on “cheating.” The impulse is malign even if the law itself is much tamer than advertised.