Gbarnga, Bong County -- The Vice Standard Bearer of the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC), Bong County Senator Jewel Howard-Taylor, has struck the second biggest political blow against opponents in Bong County by delivering the county to the CDC for the second time.
During the first round of polling, CDC which has not won Bong County during the last two presidential elections of 2005 and 2011 staged an upset when it massively won Bong County, a county neighboring Lofa, the home of Vice President Joseph N. Boakai of the governing Unity Party.
Bong and Lofa share common traditions and it was widely predicted ahead of the October 10, 2017 polling that Bong County will join Lofa in voting for Vice President Boakai.
But Senator Taylor broke the traditional ties between the two counties with her influence and delivered Bong to the CDC, upsetting the Unity Party during the first round since Bong is one of the vote rich counties.
Following the runoff, the UP said it had put in place safety measures and recalibrated the party campaign in the county to thwart any repeat during the runoff.
While the runoff was delayed due to legal wrangling, the UP deployed influential politicians from Bong in the county to battle the growing influence of Senator Taylor.
The likes of Representative Prince K. Moye, Dr. Henrique Tokpah and others trooped into the county to diminish the influence of Senator Taylor and the UP boasted that it has done sufficient to change the dynamics of October 10 during the runoff.
The extent of the politics in Bong even turned personal with UP and collaborating political parties using tribal affiliation to claim that Senator Taylor is not a native of Bong only to convince the voters to reject the CDC at the polls.
Despite all the vigorous campaigning by the UP and supporters alike, the result of the December 26 polling is once again showing that Senator Taylor is unbeatable in Bong County.
In Upper Bong County, the Coalition for Democratic Change obtained 37,439 votes (63.1 percent) while Unity Party of Vice President Joseph Boakai received 21,859 votes (36.9 percent) of a total of 61,136 votes.
In Lower Bong, Weah’s CDC secured 33, 229 (65.5 percent), while Boakai’s UP accumulated 17,512 (34.5 percent). Invalid votes in this area amounted to 1,640.
Politicians and prominent citizens of Bong County are still in a state of shock and disbelief as to how Senator Taylor continues to maintain such a powerful stature in Bong County.
Judging from the trend of the politics in Bong County, the influence of Senator Taylor seems to be increasing rather than decreasing.
During the 2014 Special Senatorial election, Senator Taylor contesting for the second time narrowly won Dr. Tokpah for the Senate with many believing that her influence in the county was reducing.
The decision of the CDC to take Senator Taylor as running mate to Senator George Weah sparked debates with some believing that she could not deliver Bong to the Coalition.
But following the first round of polling and the runoff, other politicians thinking that they weigh so much political strength in Bong County have all been proven very wrong with Senator Taylor now appearing to be synonymous to Prince Y. Johnson of Nimba County who is the political powerhouse of that county.
Four times showing of strength in Bong County by Senator Taylor is sufficient to display that she is the “Godmother” of Bong County politics like PYJ is “Godfather” to Nimba.
How Senator Taylor, continues to dominate Bong County politics overshadowing her male counterparts remains a mystery to prominent citizens of the county and perhaps that will remain an unanswered questions for many years to come.
Undoubtedly, Senator Taylor has proven to be a strong political force in Liberia due to her immense influence in a vote rich and one of the biggest counties in Liberia. At least for two decades, Senator Taylor has been known as the political heavyweight in Bong County.
Until her stature fades, politicians in Bong will have to wait and see.