Liberia: Is Nagbe Maryland’s Next Senator?

 J. Tiah Nagbe, senatorial candidate, Maryland County

…. Internal polling shows he is in the lead, with four weeks to go

 J. Tiah Nagbe entered the 2023 senate race for Maryland County as an underdog, having left the county for a good while. 

But with four weeks to go, his hard work in two years is paying off, with internal opinion polling from the Nagbe 2023 Campaign showing that he is the leading candidate. 

The survey puts him at 37%, with Brown second at 26%. Assessments from other sources seem to confirm that Nagbe is a leading contender, if not the leader of the pack, at this point in time. But, of course, we still have four weeks until the elections, and in politics, four weeks is a long time. 

The polling shows that Nagbe is performing extremely well in his home administrative district of Barrobo, but trails his main challenger, Senator J. Gblehbo Brown, in the Karluway administrative district. Both Barrobo and Karluway are in electoral district number three. 

If Nagbe can narrow Brown’s gap over him in Karluway, he is poised to win electoral district three, albeit by a slim margin. Where Nagbe is showing great promise over his main contender is in electoral districts one (Harper) and two (Pleebo), where he has much better showings. 

There are other contenders in the persons of former Senator H. Dan Morais, Professor Wollor E. Topor and Eric Wlea Giko, who are showing signs of strong performances in their home electoral districts. 

Morais seems to have a slight, but conquerable lead over Nagbe in Harper; but the former Senator’s performance drops significantly in the other two electoral districts. 

Similarly,  Topor and Giko are competitive in Pleebo, even though Nagbe could still finish ahead of both of them in Pleebo, electoral district three. However, like Morais, both Topor and Giko are reportedly performing poorly in the other two districts. 

Brown is the only candidate who is competing with Nagbe across all three electoral districts. However, he is trailing Nagbe widely in two of the three districts, making his path to victory rockier. Of course, the next four weeks are expected to see some intense competition in this race. 

Nagbe enjoyed several weeks of little competition when he campaigned across Maryland for the entire month of August with none of his main challengers in the county. But that is about to change, as all candidates are now returning to the campaign trail for the final phase leading to October 10th

Rufus Geneyan, head of Team Nagbe, still thinks that the work that the team has done is quite solid and will be difficult to overtake. He said they visited more communities and had more meetings than any team could match in the next four weeks. Geneyan also thinks that Nagbe has a strong platform for job creation, which Marylanders have accepted and want to see become a reality in their lives. 

He said these two factors — early start in the campaign and a good message — will make it difficult for anyone to overtake Nagbe at this stage. 

Another factor that Team Nagbe is banking on is history. No senator has been re-elected in Maryland since 2011. Senators Musu-Scott, Balout and Morais all lost their re-election bids. 

Geneyan said that the race is exactly where they wanted it, to face the incumbent in the final stage. “We did not want the election to be between Nagbe and another person who has not served in the senate yet. That was going to be tougher for us."

"But to face the incumbent is good for us because history is against him. Even some of the Senators who were more popular than Sen. Brown were defeated. So, we know it will be tough for him to get another nine years, which makes it good for us,” Geneyan said. 

Politics has twists and turns. Nagbe was a main backer of Brown in 2014, when Brown defeated Chambers with a narrow margin of 76 votes.  

That election result was contested by Chambers and the case went as far as the Supreme Court, with the High Court deciding in favor of Brown. The feud between Brown and Chambers went on for years, but the pair has now combined on one side of the competition against Nagbe. 

Nagbe appears unfazed by the Chambers-Brown partnership. “This election belongs to the people of Maryland and only they will decide which one of us is the best person to represent them in the Senate for the next nine years."

"It is Sen. Brown’s responsibility to present his record of performance over the last nine years to our people and convince them that he has done enough to deserve another nine years in the Senate.

"My duty is to show that I care for our people and point to a different road that promises better living conditions for Marylanders. After that, the people will decide and I am sure they will choose me,” he said. 

Trailing behind Nagbe and Brown across the county is former Senator H. Dan Morais. He is trying to do what has not been done before, to get re-elected to the Senate after facing defeat at the end of a first nine-year term. 

The only person who came close to this feat is the late Senator Daniel Naatehn of Barpolu County, who got re-elected in 2014 after a defeat in 2011. But he had served for six years, not nine years, as is with former Morais.

 In Maryland, former Senator John Ballout tried twice to get re-elected to the Senate after a full nine-year term, but was unsuccessful. Morias is also making a difficult case to give Harper electoral district two senators, if he is to join Senator James Biney who is also from Harper; but the rest of Maryland seems uninterested in this proposal. 

This is a race that many are following, especially in the Southeast, as Maryland is the fulcrum of politics in the region. Let’s see how things unfold.