Liberia: Rep. Youngblood Not Ruling out Mid-term Senatorial Race
Capitol Hill, Monrovia – Rep. Munah Pelham Youngblood (CDC, District #9, Montserrado County) says she is not ruling out contesting the October 2020 mid-term senatorial election.
Rep. Youngblood spent almost the entire 2019 on sick leave in the United States where she was battling a protracted illness.
Many had thought upon her return, she would have become soft and not the old Rep. Pelham that is known for her tough talking.
On the contrary, the Montserrado District #9 lawmaker has become even more vocal and at times combative against her critics within her district and those against her party and partisans.
Recently, she took on Senator Darius Dillon of the Liberty Party, questioning the Senator’s level of education for his comments against her fellow CDCian, Rep. Abu Kamara (District #15, Montserrado County).
In a video that went viral on the internet, Rep. Younblood, surrounded by loyal supporters in her district, and in apparent jibes at Senator Dillon can be heard announcing that the ‘cat is back’ to chase the rat that has been gallivanting in Monsterado County.
“All the Muppets that were dancing to Tom and Jerry musing please note that the cat is here. When I see you where you not supposed to be, I am the cat, I have returned and I will eat you raw,” she taunted.
“I am sending out an open point on behalf of the tripartite arrangement, the Coalition for Democratic Change, a conglomeration of political parties that are ruling this country that we are getting ready for you. And for me, I am not getting ready, I am ready.”
This pronouncement has ignited speculations that Rep. Youngblood will be throwing her hat in the ring come October 2020.
Speaking to reporters at her Capitol Hill office recently, she plainly stated that she is not ruling out contesting the Montserrado Senatorial Seat.
“If the people of Montserrado ask me to do [contest], I will listen to them. If my constituents want me to contest, I will listen to them. I will talk with my family and my strategic team, and we will get back to the public. I come from a political institution,” she responded when asked if she will contest in 2020.
Is CDC Losing Grip On Montserrado?
In Liberia’s post war democracy, Montserado County, the country’s most populous political sub-division has been the stronghold of the Congress for Democratic Change (CDC) for over a decade.
Since 2005, all of the party’s senatorial candidates, except Senator Darius Dillon of the Liberty Party, have won senatorial seats in Montserrado County.
The Party’s long list of Senators include Joyce Musu Freeman (2006-2015), the late Hannah G. Brent (2006-2009), the late Geraldine Doe sherrif (2009-2019), then Senator George M. Weah (2015-2018) and Senator Saah Joseph ( 2019 –present)
However, following the death of Senator Gerald Doe-Sheriff in 2019, a by-election was held and the Liberty Party’s candidate, Darius Dillon, backed by collaborating political parties that included the former ruling Unity Party (UP), Alternative National Congress (ANC) of former Coca Cola Executive Alexander Cummings and the All Liberian Party (ALP) of businessman Benoni Urey, won landslide with the CDC candidate Paulita Wie coming far second.
Dillon earned total votes of 102,549, according the National Election Commission (NEC) eclipsing the record of then Senatorial Candidate George Weah’s 99,226 votes, although Weah accumulated a higher percentage of 78% as compared to Dilllon’s 55.74 percent.
Dillon’s landslide victory was a rude awakening for the CDC which has held Monsterado as its “pepper bush.”
All of these happened when Rep. Youngblood was confined to her sick bed in the United States fighting for her life.
After winning the battle against death and back in Liberia among her colleagues of the House of Representatives of the 54th Legislature, the firebrand CDC-lawmaker said she and her party are ready to take Senator Dillon out in October 2020 and regain their seat.
“The people of Montserrado County, let me say to you. I sat in my hospital bed and saw the election. You gave us a protested vote, you were angry and you did not go to vote. I have come back to Liberia to ask you CDCians that whatever your party has done to you, I stand as a party steward to say let’s go back under the Sycamore Tree,” she said.
“CDCians, let’s go back to the party headquarters and reconcile our differences because 2020 elections, we will not give it to strangers and high school dropout. You will remain few months senator. I can assure you that you will not be elected again because I am here.”
More Names Surfacing to Combat Dillon
Meanwhile, as the ruling CDC plans to present a candidate in its bid to reclaim the seat it has held from 2006 to 2019, or up to the time the late Senator Sheriff left the party, there are several names, in addition to Rep. Youngblood, that have surfaced.
The most popular names so far include Reps. Thomas Fallah (CDC, district #5, Montserrado County) Acarous Gray (CDC, Distrct #8, Montserrado County), Party Chairman, Mulbah Morlu and the ‘flamboyant’ Mayor of Monrovia, Jefferson Koijee.
Rep. Thomas Fallah, District #5, Montserrado County
Rep, Fallah, who is serving his third term at the Legislature, represents Montserrado County’s Fifth Electoral District. He has spent 14 years at the Legislature, being elected since 2005.
While, Rep. Fallah is a hat trick lawmaker, many CDCians are of the opinion that he may not be appealing to the entire Montserrado County. With Dillion’ resounding victory over a “little known Wie,” in 2019, CDCians will be opting for someone who is popular and appealing to the electorates.
Rep. Acarous Gray, District #8, Montserrado County
Rep. Gray, a firebrand lawmaker and staunch believer of the CDC’s dotrines, represents the people of District #8 in Montserrado County. He has often said he will not be seeking reelection for the district’s seat when his current tenure expires in 2023.
However, his weak showings in the 2017 elections and his fast declining popularity in District #8 might likely serve as stumbling blocks to win the party’s primary.
Chairman Mulbah Morlu
The embattled CDC Chairman, Morlu was once a popular figure of the party. However, in the wake of his leaked audios, in which he is heard recklessly accusing the President and other members of the administration’s inner circle of corruption and abuse of power, there are reports he has gone out favor with the President and other top-brasses of the party.
Though the party has said the bad blood has been settled, but with such embarrassing question of trust and loyalty hanging over his shoulders, it is obvious that Morlu’s chances of representing the party on the ballot box comes October 2023 are slim.
Lord Mayor Jefferson Koijee
The ‘flamboyant’ Major of Monrovia and Chairman of the powerful Youth league of the ‘Mighty Coalition for Democratic Change,’ would have been the ideal partisan to place on the ticket to face Dillon and any other candidates in the Montserrado County senatorial race, but critics say his “overzealous behaviors and sometimes reckless statements” continue to land him in trouble, both national and internationally.
With allegations ranging from murder, torture and unlawful incarceration hanging over him, Major Koijee will have an uphill battle to claim his party’s nomination before facing Senator Dillon.
Recently, US Congressman Chris Smith warned the youthful major of a possible war crimes allegation against him.
Many believe that Koijee, though an influential partisan, is too young and inexperienced to gamble on the ballot.
Although the election itself is still far away, Senator Dillon’s victory in 2019 still leave CDCians licking their wounds.
And to regain the senatorial seat it held for over a decade, the ruling party, amid a failing economy and rising commodity prices, will have a lot to do to convince its once ardent partisans ‘to return under the Sycamore Tree’ to plan and unseat Senator Darius Abraham Dillon.