The gruelling party nominations have opened up what will be even more viciously-fought battles during the August 8 General Election.
In 18 counties, aspirants for the governor’s seat that survived what appeared like a decisive onslaught by voters on incumbents will have to face stiff competition to clinch the coveted seat in the August polls.
In other cases, the race for senator and Member of Parliament will be bruising with dynamics ranging from loyalty to party leaders and community numbers coming into play.
And if the nominations results which saw at least six governors lose their seats is anything to go by, the county chiefs are understandably not resting easy.
In Kirinyaga, former Devolution Cabinet Secretary Anne Waiguru, who floored Governor Joseph Ndathi, will face 2013 presidential candidate Martha Karua of Narc Kenya in a race that is set to give the country its first female governor.
Even though Ms Waiguru enters the August 8 battle enjoying the advantage of being the candidate for the party of choice in the greater Mt Kenya region, the Jubilee Party, she will face a tough battle given that Ms Karua, an equally no-nonsense public servant who has run an anti-corruption crusade, has backed President Uhuru Kenyatta’s re-election.
“After a huge voter turnout and an overwhelming victory we had in the nominations, I do not see the people of Kirinyaga changing their minds,” Ms Waiguru told the Sunday Nation of her August election chances.
After brushing off 2013 presidential candidate Peter Kenneth, who has since rejected the results, Nairobi Senator Mike Sonko will have to battle it out with incumbent Evans Kidero of ODM, who has the backing of the Nasa affiliate parties.
Mr Sonko, a crowd puller and a streetwise politician who with his generosity has resonated well with the hoi polloi, is battling accusations that, given his streetwise nature, he was not fit to govern the capital city, a trait that may be his undoing.
But given the huge margin with which he defeated Mr Kenneth who had portrayed himself as a manager and an administrator, the flamboyant senator might just have a chance in August when the 2.3 million Nairobi voters go to the polls.
In Bomet, National Assembly Deputy Speaker Joyce Laboso is looking to make history by sending home Nasa co-principal Governor Isaac Ruto who will be defending the seat on his Chama Cha Mashinani ticket.
Will he survive the Jubilee onslaught?
In Turkana County, Governor Josphat Nanok of ODM will square it out with Jubilee’s John Munyes, the current county senator.
Neither of them faced the electorate in their respective party primaries as they were unopposed and theirs will be a battle of the south and the north that only the 188,617 voters will decide.
In neighbouring West Pokot, Kanu’s most loyal lieutenant, Prof John Lonyangapuo, will be going for Governor Simon Kachapin’s jugular.
Mr Kachapin ditched Kanu for Jubilee, a move Prof Lonyangapuo has rallied voters to use to punish the soft-spoken former principal of Ortum Boys High school.
“He has been spreading lies around. We want to come here before the electorate in May, June, July and ask each other questions for two hours and residents to also ask us,” Prof Lonyangapuo said.
It will be political cannibalism in Kakamega as two of the Nasa affiliate parties deputy party leaders, Governor Wycliffe Oparanya (ODM) and Senator Boni Khalwale (Ford Kenya) battle it out for the county’s top seat.
Both candidates did not go through nominations.
In Busia, an aggrieved Funyula MP Paul Otuoma ditched ODM after what he said were unfair nominations and will have another date with destiny at the hands of 347,911 voters against Governor Sospeter Ojaamong’, Mr Odinga’s former aide who was controversially declared the winner.
“I will run for the governorship seat with or without the ODM certificate. They are trying to introduce a tribal angle which has a long-time effect to our people,” Dr Otuoma said, protesting Mr Ojaamong’s controversial win in his Teso backyard.
In Kisii, Governor James Ongwae will face Senator Chris Obure of Jubilee who has picked former Ford People chairman Albert Nyaundi as his running mate.
In a county where President Kenyatta claims to have made inroads, Mr Ongwae, a staunch ODM member who got a direct ticket after he went unopposed, is looking to defend his seat against a well-oiled Jubilee campaign machine.
In Mombasa, it is a three-horse race between incumbent Hassan Ali Joho, Wiper Secretary General Hassan Omar, both close confidantes of Nasa leaders Mr Odinga and Kalonzo Musyoka respectively, and Jubilee-backed Suleiman Shahbal.
Though considered fully behind the opposition Nasa, the decision by Mr Omar to go all the way to the ballot against Mr Joho might just give a window to Mr Shahbal to sail through them.
In Narok, Governor Samwel Tunai from the small Siria clan, will go head-to-head with the populous Purko clan that has fielded Patrick Ntutu of Nasa co-principal Isaac Ruto’s Chama Cha Mashinani while ODM has Tiampati ole Musuni gunning for the top seat.
BACK ONE CANDIDATE
Sources told the Nation that talks were on to have Mr Ntutu and Mr Musuni forge a deal to back one candidate, a deal which will force Mr Tunai back to the drawing table, and failure to which, the man from Kilgoris might not win a second term.
In neighbouring Kajiado county, former Internal Security Cabinet Secretary Joseph ole Lenku clinched the Jubilee Party ticket after trouncing his opponent Tarayia ole Kores and will now square it out with ODM’s David Nkedianye in a race that is likely to be determined by clan allegiances as well as the diaspora votes comprising the Kikuyu, Kisii and Luo.
The Kitui governor’s race will be a bitter duel between Wiper Party’s Governor Julius Malombe and Narc’s Charity Ngilu, former Lands Cabinet Secretary.
And that she has backed the region’s political supremo Mr Musyoka, Ms Ngilu has further complicated the race that may also have Kitui Senator David Musila, who lost to Dr Malombe during the Wiper primaries and quit the party in a huff to run as an independent candidate.
Another titanic battle is expected in Embu where the incumbent Martin Wambora floored the fiery Runyenjes MP Cecily Mbarire and will face off with Senator Lenny Kivuti who is running on the ticket of Machakos Governor Alfred Mutua’s Maendeleo Chap Chap party.
MOTHER OF ALL BATTLES
Meru Governor Peter Munya also has the mother of all battles against his friend turned foe, Senator Kiraitu Murungi in a race pitting what the latter claims are genuine President Kenyatta supporters against those he says are out to exploit the relationship.
Mr Munya leads the Party of National Unity (PNU) while Mr Murungi is the Jubilee Party pointman in the region.
In Elgeyo-Marakwet, Senator Kipchumba Murkomen, who won the Jubilee primaries by a large margin, is facing a battle of his life to retain his seat following the entrance of former Inspector General of Police David Kimaiyo who will fly the Kanu ticket.
Mr Kimaiyo has already got the blessings of the party leader Gideon Moi who attended his launch in Iten in February.
Mr Murkomen is banking on his close association with DP Ruto, who still enjoys considerable support in the region.
The two are Marakwets and hail from the same location.
In Baringo, Senator Moi is set to face Jubilee’s Simon Chelugui who is said to have the support of DP Ruto.
Mr Chelugui had initially shown interest in the governor’s seat but was said to have been prevailed upon by the DP to instead vie for senator after a meeting at Mr Ruto’s home in Sugoi last December.
Mr Chelugui has always denied that he was someone’s project.
Siaya County, the rural county to Mr Odinga, is one interesting focus after Rarieda MP Nicholas Gumbo who was declared to had lost to Governor Cornel Rasanga in the primaries vowed to be on the ballot come August 8.
County returning officer Joshua Onyona had declared Mr Rasanga winner after garnering 143,446 votes against Mr Gumbo’s 87,467 votes.
“I beat Rasanga by 65 per cent and my victory was stolen. I believe I still have an opportunity to beat him again in the August 8 elections and I will do it,” Mr Gumbo said.
In Ugenya Constituency, Chris Karan of ODM who got 13,246 votes to beat his rival, Journalist David Ohito who scored 5,950, is also gearing up for another tough contest with incumbent David Ochieng’.
Mr Ochieng’ had defected to Movement for Democracy and Growth (MDG), which he will use as his political vehicle in the August 8 polls.
In Kisumu West Constituency, Ford Kenya MP Olago Aluoch is headed for a big battle to secure his seat against John Awiti of ODM.
Unlike in 2013 when Mr Aluoch first participated in ODM primaries before his defection, this time round he chose to stick to Ford Kenya party.
“I will defend my seat on a Ford Kenya ticket and I’m confident of winning. I’m fully behind Mr Raila Odinga and have been advocating for him to be the Nasa flagbearer even before he was named,” Mr Aluoch said.
A fierce battle could also be witnessed in Gem Constituency should MP Jakoyo Midiwo who is fronting for Mr Gumbo’s gubernatorial decide to run.
Mr Midiwo disputed the results immediately Mr Elisha Odhiambo was declared winner.
Should ODM hand nominated MP Oburu Oginga its ticket, he could also face another battle of his life against incumbent Bondo MP Gideon Ochanda.
Political analyst and Maseno University don, Tom Mboya, however, insisted that the ODM primaries were not conducted above board and would destabilise Mr Odinga’s quest for the presidency.
“Most likely it will lead to voter apathy as some people may not turn out to vote for Mr Odinga as President. It is likely to cause a setback,” he said.
Mr Mboya said most ODM sympathisers feel Mr Odinga by virtue of being the ODM leader is in a position to bring order and set the record straight to ensure rightful winners are awarded the certificates.
“Therefore, if he doesn’t intervene, many will view him as letting them down by allowing unpopular candidates to fly the ODM flag,” added Mr Mboya.
Prof Herbert Manyora however, disagrees.
“It will be foolhardy to go ahead and vie as an independent candidate in Nyanza with Raila as presidential candidate unless you are extremely popular,” said Prof Manyora.
The August 8 presidential race, he said, will be a do-or-die for the opposition and anybody planning to vie on a party which is not dominant in the region will easily be trounced.
Political Analyst and Moi University Lecturer, Javas Bigambo, agrees with Prof Manyora.
He said Mr Odinga’s candidacy for President will excite his supporters in Nyanza who will vote in his party members.
“It won’t be easy for independent candidates to carry the day in Nyanza, may be in Western,” Mr Bigambo said.
LOYALTY TO RAILA
He went on: “A good example is Siaya Senator James Orengo who was voted in during the nominations without even having a single campaign poster. He was voted because of his unquestionable loyalty to Raila and ODM party.”
Some of Mr Odinga’s close allies have been accused of influencing the nomination results in their favour or in favour of friends.
Mr Ranguma lost to Prof Nyong’o who garnered 164,110 votes against the Governor’s 91,480 according to returning officer Tom Okong’o and hours later, deputy returning officer Richard Kiyondi pronounced the Governor winner.
Stories by Patrick Lang’at, Jeremiah Kiplang’at, Oscar Kakai, Philemon Suter, and Justus Ochieng.