What you need to know:
- Uganda-born Anita Cox Mpambara says coming up with an effective strategy for voters who can cast their ballots in a process that spreads over eight days -- with early voting being a full week before election day on November 8 -- is tricky.
On July 17, this publication ran an article about Anita Mpambara Cox, a Ugandan-America mother who was standing in a Republican Party primary election at the time, seeking to become the party’s flag bearer for senate seat in the Maryland Legislative District 19.
The Republican primary election was held on July 19, two days after the story ran, and Mpambara narrowly lost the tight race by 28 votes out of 2,600 ballots cast.
However, in an interesting turn of events, the winner, businessman Raul Ayala, declined the nomination soon after the results were certified for what he called “personal reasons”. He pledged to support Mpambara in the November 8 general election.
The county’s Republican Central Committee then proceeded to choose Mpambara to run for the seat against the Democratic Party’s nominee and incumbent, Benjamin F. Kramer.
How opponent stood down for her
Mpambara says after the final vote count was announced, she decided to give her triumphant opponent a call.
“He picked up the phone after one ring that Saturday evening and in a very brief call, I asked to meet with him the next morning after church. We settled for a time and a place. I was 29 votes behind and certification was going to be in another week after a thorough audit,” she says.
“The outcome of the meeting would determine if I would request a recount. The aim of the meeting was to compare our general election plans with timelines and some detail as to how we were going to engage the electorate,” she adds.
Mpambara and Ayala met on Sunday morning, August 7, after church. Something in that church service would have an important bearing on the outcomes of that meeting. A special kind of hope had arisen in Mpambara’s spirit due to the sermon about hope that morning.
“From the conversation, I could tell that it had been difficult for him to run against someone he didn’t dislike and he was glad the primary was over. Within 15 minutes of comparing our plans, I essentially ‘became’ the nominee, because what followed was a discussion of how to address the voters and how to actually get it done,” Mpambara says.
It is highly conceivable, from what I have gathered from our correspondence for this article, that Ayala could have found himself blunted by Mpambara’s abilities and primary strategy as a nominee. But only God knows for sure why he stood down.
“The next 20 minutes of the meeting was about how we would address the voters and about how I would handle a Democrat opponent. I asked Raul to go and talk to his wife and family and then we would talk again in two days. He called the next day and was more convinced of his choice [to step down] and our plan,” she says.
Juliana Kanyomozi inspiration
Ayala called the next day while Mpambara was driving. He had not only stepped down in favour, he had pledged to support her.
As soon as the call ended, with Mpambara feeling euphoric from the great news, Juliana Kanyomozi’s Kanyimbe came next on her playlist and more than ever, those words came alive.
The path was finally clear. No more mulabe (opponent). No more lukongolo (troubles).
On August 12, unopened mail-in ballots were found and the two allies paused and wondered if they should wait to see if that might change the final tally.
“But Raul said, no matter the outcome, he would still stand behind me. After the count he still won. I only gained one vote,” she says.
The party moved with lightning speed, through a flurry of consultations and calls and emails. The Central Committee Members unanimously voted to nominate Mpambara to beat the tight deadlines and have her officially placed on the ballot.
“It was such an intense process and I was enormously grateful for the expeditiousness of their work and their support and really, reality would hit me only after I saw their congratulations start coming in one after another! It was only then that I knew they were finished and had met the deadline,” she smiles.
Strategy to unseat the incumbent
Starting Tuesday last week, Mpambara is on the road campaigning. The process kicked off with a meeting between her, Ayala and the Central Committee chairman in which they talked strategy.
“The meeting helped focus me on critical elements of the district’s electorate that I am now taking into consideration. For example, only 27 percent [of the Republicans in the county] participated in the last election. I am preoccupied with the other 73 percent. Why aren’t they voting?” she asks.
She notes that there is a growing number of independents in Maryland because such unaffiliated people feel like neither party represents them. Her plan is to reach out to these people with “our solutions package – especially on the economy and education – and I hope we have the time in the next 10 weeks to drive the message home enough to get them to vote”.
Mpambara was recently endorsed by the “Blue Book Ballot” education group which is working to ensure that schools in Maryland go back to teaching things that matter, as opposed to liberal agendas like transgenderism and controversial Critical Race Theory.
Electoral processes in the US have gone south since the 2020 general election, but according to Mpambara, Maryland’s electoral processes are beyond that. It is a mixed-up mess.
“Coming up with an effective strategy for voters who can cast their ballots in a process that spreads over eight days, with early-voting being a full week before election day on November 8, is tricky,” she says.
Mpambara’s biggest challenge is the issue of ‘absentee’ ballots, conveniently called ‘mail-in’ ballots by the Democratic Party, a phenomenon that morphed into something sinister during the Covid-era 2020 election.
The reason it is a challenge is because voters can print ballots at home, fill them out and mail them starting as early as mid-October. She fears many of the voters may mail in their ballots before her winning message has reached them.
“Mail-in voting for all was introduced during Covid to prevent infections, but it has not gone away today even when Covid is no longer an issue and the reason is because it favours the Democratic Party that has supermajorities in Maryland’s legislature. I say this to say that we don’t have 10 weeks and I am acutely aware that time is not on our side,” she says.
Mpabara officially started her campaign on September 6. Just the previous day, she had been on a team of judges for a Labour Day parade for the first time in her life and that helped in expanding her campaign team.
This may not be the last time you hear about this daughter of Kigezi. There is reason to believe that she could win because the failures of the current Democrat administration led by president Joe Biden, may make it possible for Republicans like Mpambara to win in heavily liberal areas like Maryland.