Rangwe Constituency is the epicentre of the battle pitting current MP George Oner and university don, Dr Lilian Gogo.
Mr Oner opted to defend his seat as an independent following a disputed nomination in which Dr Gogo was declared the winner.
Also in the race is William Omburo Odaje, who is also seeking the seat as an independent.
ONER WILL LOSE
Vowing to teach Dr Gogo a lesson in the August 8 election, Mr Oner has mounted a series of campaign rallies across the constituency.
During a recent rally at Ndiru trading centre, the MP accused Dr Gogo of playing divisive politics in the constituency.
However, Dr Gogo of Egerton University termed the attack as a sign of desperation, warning him to “prepare for a sounding defeat”.
“Mr Oner is already panicking. Why is he not ready to explain to residents why he performed poorly as their legislator?” Dr Gogo asked.
The rural constituency, which was split into two (Homa Bay Town and Rangwe), is known for clan politics.
Dr Gogo hails from the populous Gem clan, while Mr Oner and Mr Omburo come from Kagan and Kochia clans respectively.
Since independence, the Gem clan has never voted as a block and has not produced an MP while the other two clans have produced legislators.
Former MP Shem Odongo Ochuodho is from the Kagan clan, while former MPs Joseph Muga Ouma and Philip Okundi are from the Kochia clan.
Dr Gogo’s candidature is, therefore, a threat to Mr Oner and Mr Omburo following her ability to solidify her clan into one voting block for the first time.
The ODM candidate also enjoys the support of the Gongo, a sub-clan of the Kagan clan.
She appears to be exploiting the traditional political rivalry between the Gongo Sub-clan and other smaller sub-clans of Kagan like Komenya, Kanyarwanda and Kanyiriema to her advantage.
Dr Gogo has however downplayed the clan factor, saying that there is nothing wrong when a clan rallies behind one of its own whom it believes is development conscious.
“My clan has rallied behind me as a sign of confidence in my development agenda. I am set to transform the whole constituency if given opportunity,” she said.
Mr Oner is, on the other hand, hopeful that the Kochia and Kagan clans will back his bid following “failure to include votes of the two clans in the tallying during the ODM party nomination.”
“You know that Ms Gogo was declared the winner with votes from her clan. We are going to see how she is going to lock out votes from the two clans of Kagan and Kochia on August 8,” Mr Oner said.
Dr Gogo has the advantage of being the ODM candidate for the seat.
The constituency has been a traditional backyard of the opposition and Mr Oner’s brief dalliance with other ODM rebels sometime back could be his undoing.
She has accused Mr Oner of being disloyal to the party that sponsored him to Parliament in the last election.
“Mr Oner has never been a loyal member of ODM. He even supported the candidate of another party in a by-election in which ODM has its candidate,” Dr Gogo said.
During the Homa Bay senatorial by-election, which was caused by the death of Otieno Kajwang’, Mr Oner and a section of ODM MPs from the county were termed rebels when they rallied behind Maendeleo Party of Kenya candidate Philip Okundi instead of ODM’s Moses Kajwang’.
Mr Oner has however defended his move to back Mr Okundi during the by-election, saying that there is no way he could have supported Mr Kajwang’ when Okundi hails from Kochia, a clan in the constituency that voted for him overwhelmingly in the 2013 elections.
“Mr Okundi hailed from Kochia clan that voted for me overwhelmingly and I also had my democratic right to choose who I wanted,” Mr Oner said.
Mr Oner and Dr Gogo have also clashed over development projects in the constituency.
While the incumbent pegs his re-election on his development initiatives across the constituency, Dr Gogo terms his initiatives as unsound and a waste of taxpayers’ money.
“I have invested in building new classrooms, dams and opened new roads. My development initiatives speak for itself across the constituency,” Mr Oner boasted.
The MP lists projects like Yao Kosiga water dam in Kagan and the planned building of a sugar factory at Aoch Muga in Gem as some of the projects he has successfully lobbied for.
Dr Gogo has now challenged the MP to explain to residents why the projects are either incomplete or have not been initiated.
“Mr Oner should explain to Rangwe residents where the sugar factory he planned to build five years ago is. Residents are not going to be fed on empty promises.”
Dr Gogo banks on her women and youth empowerment programmes in the constituency to thwart Mr Oner’s development initiatives.
“I am running successful women and youth empowerment programmes in the constituency. I have won support through the initiatives.”
For Mr Omburo, his decision to seek the seat is negated by clan politics as he comes from the same clan with Homa Bay Woman Representative Gladys Wanga.
If she wins in the race, which is expected to be tough, Dr Gogo is expected to be the first woman MP for the constituency.