Axios Atlanta

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🇺🇸 It's Friday. Have a joyful and rejuvenating holiday weekend. We'll see you back here Tuesday.

🦆 Today's weather: Showers and thunderstorms are likely this afternoon. High of 85.

Situational awareness: Several laws go into effect in Georgia today, Fox 5 reports, including one that bans the teaching of "divisive concepts" and another that requires recess for all elementary school children.

Today's newsletter is 909 words — a 3.5-minute read.

1 big thing: The (new) GOP plan

Warnock Kelly
Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

Republican strategists have discovered a problem: Personal political attacks on two of the most vulnerable Democratic senators isn't the best strategy, thanks to their likability, Emma and Axios Phoenix's Jeremy Duda report:

  • Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.) is the pastor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s Ebenezer Baptist Church.
  • Sen. Mark Kelly (D-Ariz.) is a former astronaut and the husband of former Rep. Gabby Giffords, a gun control activist who survived an assassination attempt in 2011.

Why it matters: In a broadly unfavorable national environment for Democrats, control of the Senate may rest on the pair of incumbents. (Kelly and Warnock were elected in 2020 and 2021, respectively, and face voters again in November.)

  • That's prompted the GOP to change tack: The National Republican Senatorial Committee is now spending most of its money trying to tie Warnock and Kelly to President Biden and his dismal approval rating.
  • "Whatever you think of them as people — you may like Mark Kelly, you may like Raphael Warnock — they have interesting stories, personal biographies," Chris Hartline, the NRSC's director of communications, told Axios. "But the reality is they both went to Washington and became part of the problem."

Flashback: Republicans in Georgia unsuccessfully sought to portray Warnock as a "radical liberal socialist" in the 2020-21 special election, while also targeting his personal history by dredging up old sermons and taking a 2002 arrest out of context.

  • In Arizona, Republicans hit Kelly over his business record — in one NRSC ad, an animated astronaut dances as a narrator accuses Kelly of taking money from dangerous Chinese companies.
  • That "attempt to sort of portray them as too liberal, extreme, shady cronies and whatever else, didn't cut through," Hartline acknowledged.

The other side: Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee communications director David Bergstein said Kelly and Warnock's identities transcend the national climate, pointing out they outperformed Biden in 2020.

Read the full story.

2. How to fake it: The state of the Hawks

Atlanta's newest guard: Dejounte Murray. Photo: Layne Murdoch Jr./NBAE via Getty Images

NBA free agency kicked off last night.

This guide will help you persuade your friends you know what's going on.

The bottom line: If you're rooting for the Hawks to bring a championship to Atlanta, they took a major step toward doing that.

What's happening: The Hawks traded for Dejounte Murray, an all-star guard from the San Antonio Spurs.

  • He is by far the best player Trae Young has played alongside. This trade alone should make Atlanta one of the top five teams in the Eastern Conference. It’s time to get excited.
  • They gave up an aging Danilo Gallinari and three future first-round picks. (But if you're planning to be good anyway, those picks have diminishing value.)

Trade grade: A. This one passes the vibe check.

Ross's thought bubble: This is one of the most exciting parts of the NBA offseason. The Hawks have a chance to show fans they are committed to winning and will do whatever it takes to bring another championship (thanks, United and Braves) to the city.

  • We're still holding out hope for the Falcons.

Read more.

3. Remember when... an infamous Supreme Court case started in VaHi?

Protesters holding signs stand outside the Supreme Court in 1986 to rally against anti-LGBTQ laws
LGBTQ activists and supporters protest outside the U.S. Supreme Court in 1986. Photo: MPI/Getty Images

Welcome to Remember When, where we revisit the largely forgotten (or overlooked) strange, uplifting, pivotal or baffling moments from Atlanta’s history.

In 1986, the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that gay people had no constitutional right to engage in sodomy.

  • And it all started just off Ponce de Leon Avenue.

Flashback: In 1982, an Atlanta police officer visiting Michael Hardwick's house to collect a $50 fine observed him and another man having sex. They were arrested under Georgia's sodomy law.

  • Hardwick, along with LGBTQ+ rights advocates, fought the case to the U.S. Supreme Court, which ruled the Constitution’s right to privacy didn't extend to homosexual people's sexual activities.
  • States could continue to outlaw consensual sexual behavior between adults, fueling discriminatory policies for years to come.

Aftermath: In 1998, the Georgia Supreme Court struck down the state's sodomy law. Five years later, the U.S. Supreme Court followed suit.

What's next: Author Martin Padgett is writing a book about Hardwick, who died in 1991.

4. Fourth of July might make you cry

Illustration of fireworks in the shape of dollar signs
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The classic July 4 cookout will cost Americans much more this year, Axios’ Julia Shapero reports.

The big picture: Amid record inflation, most Fourth of July staples have seen an increase in price over last year, with food prices up as much as 36%, according to a recent survey from the American Farm Bureau Federation.

There's more: Fireworks might also cost more, according to Phantom Fireworks CEO Bruce Zoldan.

  • Zoldan tells Axios’ Kelly Tyko that the company, which has six locations in metro Atlanta, raised prices around 30% due to higher labor and shipping costs.

New jobs to check out

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5. Most likely to succeed: ATL

Outkast holding grammy's
One of Atlanta's greatest exports, at the 2004 Grammys. Photo: Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images

Mayor Andre Dickens recently sat down with Bloomberg News journalists including Matthew Winkler, the news outlet's perpetually bowtied editor-in-chief emeritus.

What he's saying: Atlanta has a sterling credit rating, the world's busiest airport, a roaring economy, plus diversity that other cities can only aspire to.

Yes, but: We agree, but think he missed a few things.

✌🏼Emma is not sorry to tell you she will not be responding to any electronic communication this weekend. She'll be camping on Catalina Island instead.

🧴 Thomas hopes you return Tuesday with a renewed energy and spirit (and no sunburn). SPF 50+, folks!