U.S. Sen. Kelly Loeffler, R-Ga., has doubled down on criticism of the Women’s National Basketball Association after players from several teams – including one which she co-owns – wore shirts to games Tuesday night urging voters to support her Democratic opponent, Rev. Raphael Warnock.
The shirts, which read “Vote Warnock,” served as a rebuke of Loeffler over comments she has made in recent weeks denouncing the league for its outspoken backing of the Black Lives Matter movement, amid months of nationwide protests against police brutality and racial injustice.
Loeffler, an Atlanta businesswoman who co-owns a team in the league, the Atlanta Dream, took heat for opposing plans for players to wear pre-game shirts supporting the protest movement and to have “Black Lives Matter” painted on the Florida basketball court where all games are being played this year.
Following the posting of photos of players wearing the “Vote Warnock” shirts on social media Tuesday, Loeffler issued a statement reiterating her stance against the Black Lives Matter organization “due to its radical ideas and Marxist foundations,” as well as calls to reduce local police funding.
“This is just more proof that the out-of-control cancel culture wants to shut out anyone who disagrees with them,” Loeffler said. “It’s clear that the league is more concerned with playing politics than basketball.”
Warnock, who is the senior pastor at Atlanta’s Ebenezer Baptist Church, praised the players for wearing the shirts and slammed Loeffler’s comments as moves that “seek to silence and dismiss others when they speak up for justice.”
“We are in a moment of generational, transformative change, and there is no place in the movement for bigotry,” Warnock said. “We celebrate the courage and resolve of these players standing for justice, and I am proud to stand with them.”
Loeffler, who was appointed in December to hold the seat of retired U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., has drawn a field of 20 other contenders in the free-for-all race to win her seat.
They include her toughest Republican opponent, U.S. Rep. Doug Collins, R-Gainesville, who has taken aim at Loeffler for not condemning the league’s support for Planned Parenthood.
The Nov. 3 special election for Loeffler’s Senate seat will see candidates from all parties on the ballot. A runoff will be held in January if no candidate wins more than 50% of votes in November.
Photo: U.S. Sen. Kelly Loeffler speaks at the State Capitol after qualifying for the 2020 election on March 2, 2020. (Photo by Beau Evans)