AUSTIN (CBSDFW.COM) — Texas Governor Greg Abbott received an invitation to throw out the ceremonial first pitch at the opening game of the Texas Rangers in Arlington, but he declined citing his displeasure with Major League Baseball's decision to move this summer's All-Star game after sweeping changes to voting laws in Georgia.
Abbott sent a letter to the Rangers saying that the MLB is perpetrating "false political narratives by moving the MLB All-Star Game from Atlanta in response to Georgia's new election integrity laws."
The governor now says he will no longer participate in any event held by MLB, and that no city in Texas will seek to host the All-Star game or any other MLB special events.
"Major League Baseball adopted what has turned out to be a false narrative about the election law reforms in Georgia, and, based on that false narrative, moved the MLB All-Star game from Atlanta," Abbott said in the letter. "It is shameful that America's pastime is not only being influenced by partisan political politics, but also perpetuating false political narratives. This decision does not diminish the deep respect I have for the Texas Rangers baseball organization, which is outstanding from top to bottom."
The decision to pull the July 13 game from Atlanta is the first economic backlash against Georgia for the voting law that Republican Gov. Brian Kemp signed into law on March 25.
Kemp has insisted the law's critics have mischaracterized what it does, yet GOP lawmakers adopted the changes largely in response to false claims of fraud in the 2020 elections by former President Donald Trump and his supporters. The law includes new restrictions on voting by mail and greater legislative control over how elections are run.
During an overnight vote last week, Texas lawmakers passed Senate Bill 7, which would limit the time that polls may be open -- phasing out overnight voting that was intended to help shift workers -- and prohibit election officials from soliciting voters to complete a vote-by-mail application.
One difference between Texas and Georgia is that several corporations in the Lone Star State are speaking out against legislation that would curb voting earlier -- before it becomes law. For example, American Airlines issued a statement Thursday, after the overnight vote, objecting to Senate Bill 7.
"We are strongly opposed to this bill and others like it," the company said. "As a Texas-based business, we must stand up for the rights of our team members and customers who call Texas home, and honor the sacrifices made by generations of Americans to protect and expand the right to vote."
The Rangers are allowing full capacity -- more than 40,000 seats -- at their season opener against the Blue Jays, making Globe Life Field the first Major League Baseball stadium to reopen at full capacity since the COVID-19 pandemic began.
While refusing to go to Arlington, Governor Abbot ended his letter to the baseball team saying, "This decision does not diminish the deep respect I have for the Texas Rangers baseball organization, which is outstanding from top to bottom."
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