CDC Steps Up Campaign for Runoff -Receives Plethora of Vital Endorsements -Commences Citizens’ Engagement Robustly
MONROVIA: Stalwarts of the ruling Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) say their party is returning to the electoral boxing ring with all the force it can muster. Already, the party topped all 19 candidates on the first round ballot, and has clawed away many seats in the National Legislature, with possibility of attracting more independents to turn “Blue”. And as the November 14 runoff draws nearer, the CDC buildup to the event appears to be showing signs that promise a cataclysmic showdown against the opposition. Having talked to a cross-section of stalwarts in top campaign positions, The Analyst finds the ruling party preparing for a more robust, inclusive and fiercest possible political campaign yet in the coming weeks.
Since the October 10 polls and the final pronouncement of results by the National Election Commission (NEC), the ruling Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) has returned to political war room and spending hours restlessly reviewing, accessing and dissecting all that went well and wrong during the first round of balloting on October 10 that denied them the much-vaunted first round victory.
Whatever the drawback, the CDC says it is poised to win the runoff, and is not taking chances, exploring all means to widen its claws on the electorate across the fifteen political subdivisions.
Endless Stream of Endorsements
Apparently true to those words of its stalwarts, it has begun to flex its supreme political muscles, attracting a plethora of meaningful endorsements at head of its rival, the Unity Party (UP).
Though the UP has got a few endorsements here and there, those gravitating towards to the ruling party are copious and more emboldening, according to political pundits.
Since the possibility of runoff appeared on the horizon, a number of topnotch political leaders and groups, some earlier considered unlikely, are pouring in into the scheme of things of the ruling party.
The most prominent of those trooping into the CDC is the former ally of the former ruling party, UP, the All Liberia Party (ALP) of businessman Benino Urey. The ALP was the perhaps the most loyal ally of UP Standard Bearer Joseph Boakai until all went asunder over Mr. Boakai’s Vice Standard Bearer pick.
Ahead of the ALP endorsement, there was a staunched ally and protégé of the party, vocal talk show host Henry Costa, who days before announced his support to President Weah’s reelection.
There in the Bassaland comes another prominent politician to endorse the President. Former President Pro-Tempore, and former Senator now Senator-elect of Grand Bassa County, Milton Finley announced his endorsement of the President.
In the north of the country, Nimba County, where the CDC performed dismally despite monumental development projects, a prominent stateswoman and daughter of the county, has taken a firm position behind President Weah.
It has been reported in Monrovia, that Mandingo Women in the 15 districts of Montserrado, during a colorful ceremony announced their support for President Weah’s reelection.
Pundits have been describing as vital and meaningful those endorsements and many that are pending in the buildup to the runoff.
“The endorsements extracted and received are no children play crossover,” said another CDC campaign team member who does not want to be mentioned in print. “The names and groups that have endorsement the reelection bid of President Weah can best be described as game-changers. Just wait and see. The dynamics has greatly changed. The momentum is emboldened by the new endorsements and strategic thinking that have come to the fore.”
Many must have been shocked by the virulent fight put up by the Unity Party whose standard-bearer is widely believed to be frail and weak, who couldn’t campaign much vigorously and whose 12 year regime as Vice President is dismissed by pundits, including himself, as less productive and not worth it.
Pundits are of the view that the ruling CDC entered the 2023 elections with a mix of wherewithal—a younger and energetic ticket, a standard-bearer with legend-style popularity, and perhaps above all the powers and advantages of incumbency. Most of the pundits if not all used those advantages of the CDC ticket to predict one-round victory or a huge beating of the opposition underdogs, including the forming UP, have surely got a rude awakening.
Despite the situation, the former ruling establishment, the Unity Party, would not cow to the incumbency powers and other advantages ingrained in the CDC; for it put up a vociferous chase of the incumbent party, at times passing by the ruling party in number of votes obtained in some areas.
Howbeit, at the end of the first round, the ruling CDC proved supreme, sitting on top of 19 opposition presidential parties and independents, but with an extremely slight lead of some 7,000 votes over the second place contestant, the UP.
The current numerical standing of parties in the 2023 elections reminds people who have been following Liberian politics on major past general and presidential elections. The CDC, even when it was Congress for Democratic Change, reigned supreme in the first rounds of those elections.
In 2005, 2011 and 2017, the CDC consistently won the first round of balloting, but lost two finals or runoffs (2005 and 2011). It won both the first-round and runoff elections in 2017.
It is widely believed that the current ruling CDC party did far better in the first rounds of previous presidential elections as an opposition party, including the 2017 elections that it won, and that its relatively poor showing in 2023 first round portends doom.
But the CDC is counter-arguing that its momentum and prowess are not diminishing the least and that it is only a matter of time before naysayers see the party flying in colors in the runoff.
Winning on two Fronts
“The CDC won the first round of balloting on two fronts—presidential and legislative,” says a CDC stalwart who does not want to be named in print. “While President Weah tops 19 presidential contenders in the October polls, we have got more senatorial and representative winners as per National Elections Commission announcements than any other party, even independents.”
Where CDC Tops
At the final count, the CDC leads in eight of 15 counties; the runner-up, UP, winning four of 15 counties. The rest of the three of the 15 counties remain battleground or swing counties.
The CDC maintained a lead in eight counties: In Bong where 555 out of 555 polling places were counted, these were the numbers: Total registered voters 234,787. The CDC got 77,184 or 43.91% while UP got 67,383 or 38.33%.
Bassa: 405 out of 405 polling places counted: Total votes, 158,463. CDC, 46,651 or 44.31%
And UP 36,214 or 34.40%.
Maryland: 175 out of 175 polling places counted: Total registered voters 67,600. CDC, 35,784 or 73.01% and UP 5,505 or 11.23%.
Grand Gedeh: 163 out of 163 polling places. Total registered voters 63,942: CDC, 34,751 or 78.17% and UP 4,689 or 10.55%.
Sinoe: 152 out of 152. Total registered voters 55,579: CDC, 29,639 or 78.10% and UP 4,468 or 11.77%.
Grand Kru: 109 out of 110 polling places: Total registered voters 42,396: CDC, 24,222 or 79.55% and UP or 2,556 or 8.39%.
River Gee: 98 out of 98 polling places: Total registered voters 37,807. CDC, 19,247 or 70.33% and UP 4,424 or 16.17%.
Rivercess: 105 out of 105 polling places: Total registered voters 39,941: CDC, 15,398 or 58.50%
UP or 6,503 or 24.71%.
Where UP Tops
The Unity Party had its lead in four counties in the first round.
Up to press time, Nimba counted 733 out of 736 polling places, with these standings: Total registered voters 307,254: UP got 137,433 or 59.53% while the CDC got 50,269 or 21.77%.
Lofa counted 424 out of 424 polling places: Total registered voters 177,129: UP, 73,761 or 56.16% and CDC, 35,951 or 27.37%.
Margibi counted 441 out of 441 polling places: Total registered voters 185,301. UP 63,431 or 47.08% and CDC 56,272 or 41.76%.
Bomi counted 171 out of 171 polling places: Total registered voters 63,112: UP 25,377 or 52.68% and CDC 18,239 or 37.86%.
The contrasts in both cases of respective wins are noticed in the percentages of the underdog, and where CDC played an underdog position, the percentages were quite higher than where UP played underdog position. This, according to pundits, underscores the CDC supremacy.
This means, where the UP defeated the UP, such as in Nimba, Margibi, Lofa, Gbarpolu, and Bomi, the CDC clawed away much votes, reasonable percentages that the UP did not do in seven counties the CDC led UP.
Whoever wins the runoff, the CDC will play a dominant role in the National Legislature.
As per NEC final counts, the ruling Coalition for Democratic Change won 25 of the 73 Seats, while independents tally 18 of the 73 seats.
The former ruling UP is in the third place, with 10 of the 73 seats of the House of Representatives. The Collaborating Political Parties (CPP) is in the fourth place, won six seats, while the Movement for Democracy and Reconstruction (MDR) bagged 4 of the 73 seats.
Seven other parties won one seat each except the People’s Unification Party (PUP) which snatched two seats.
Parties that won one seat each include MPC, ALP, ND, LRP, VOLT, and LINU.
Topping the Senate
On the Senate wing, the ruling CDC also tops, with six of the 15 candidates that emerged winners from the October 10 polls. The CDC shares the six place with “independent bloc” that also produced six senators.
The Unity Party shares with other senate winner position with two other parties—the MDR and the LRP that also won one seat each.
In the lineup are Alex J. Tyler Sr.(IND), who replaced incumbent Morris G. Saytumah of Bomi County; Johnny K. Kpehe (IND), replacing Henrique Tokpah of Bong County; Amara M. Konneh (IND), who replaced Daniel Naatehn Sr. Deceased– Gbarpolu County; Gbehzonhngar M. Findley (IND), replacing Jonathan Kaipay of Grand Bassa County and Momo T. Cyrus (IND) who replaced Stephen Zargo of Lofa County.
Others include Varvpilah M. Dabah (UP), who replaced Varney G. Sherman of Grand cape mount County; Thomas Yaya Nimely( LRP), replacing Marshall Dennis of Grand Gedeh County; Nathaniel F. McGill (CDC), replacing Jim Tornonlah of Margibi County; Francis S. Dopoh ( IND), replaced Conmany Wesseh of River Gee County; Bill T. Twehway (CDC), replaced Francis S. Paye of Rivercess County; and Crayton O. Ducan( CDC) who replaced Milton Teahjay of Sinoe County.
Those who were retained in the October 10 polls are Saah H. Joseph (CDC) of Montserrado County; Prince Y. Johnson (MDR) of Nimba County, Browne, J Gbleh Bo (CDC) of Maryland County, and Albert T. Chea (CDC) of Grand Kru County.
Fiery Push for Presidency
CDC insiders who spoke to The Analyst on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak on the matter sounded upbeat that the CDC was now strongly consolidated and prepared to win the runoff, contending that the bit of leakages left unattended during the first round was not firmly sealed and taken care of.
Without being detailed, a top insider said the ruling party approached the first round with the same level of campaign attitude it adopted during elections while in opposition, and that they have come to discover that the moods of campaigning while is opposition is quite different from being the incumbent and going into an election.
“We have redrawn our methods, our team being intact, and we are now moving to the pending national campaign with the full weight of the science of elections and incumbency,” he said.
“This time, it is no more about deafening slogans and battle cries; it not about moving like herds in search of grassland; it is about moving tactically, hearing out the voices out there and filling the leakages.”
He said the CDC was so overconfident that they forgot to do a number of things, say a number of things and placing a number of things to their fitted places.
“Right now, with our rebranded machinery, it is all set to reach all 73 constituencies and other constituency subdivisions; to be heard by all 2.5 million voters; to keep all 2080 precincts and 5,890 polling places in the country under our radar,” the top insider confided into The Analyst. “We have the tenacity, resources and commitment.”
Other insider told The Analyst: “The full weight and supremacy by which the CDC is known and respected in the Liberian political mosaic is now full activated and placed on red alert. CDC deserves a second term by all measure. The Liberian people have agreed in unison and have since tendered that responsibility to us already. All we need to know and do, which we are doing now, is to accept the responsibility firmly and robustly.”