Meru Senator Kiraitu Murungi is on course to lose the gubernatorial race to incumbent Peter Munya, a new opinion poll shows.
An Infotrak Harris survey showed that 41.1 per cent of residents interviewed supported Mr Munya with Mr Murungi trailing him at 29 per cent.
It also indicates that, were the elections to be held today, the county would see a political bloodbath with seven of the nine sitting Members of Parliament being booted out.
It is still months to the election and things could change, however.
Mr Murungi, in politics since 1992, yesterday dismissed the poll as “propaganda paid for by agents of the governor” and as not reflecting the reality in the county.
“Everybody is aware that last weekend there were massive demonstrations against Peter Munya in Muthara, where he comes from.
He has been rejected in his own home and generally the people of Meru are tired and fed up with Munya’s dictatorship, massive looting and waste of public resources meant for development of Meru,” said Senator Murungi.
However, the survey is consistent with at least one other poll that shows the governor well ahead.
Mr Murungi has dominated Meru politics for more than two decades and, for a brief period when he served as minister for Justice and Constitutional Affairs, was one of the most powerful men in the land. However, Jubilee Party initially sidelined him.
Even though he was the leading politician from the greater Meru, it is noteworthy that the position of Leader of Majority in the Senate went to a newcomer, Professor Kithure Kindiki, the youthful Tharaka-Nithi senator.
Even after he was somewhat rehabilitated and was picked to chair the party, his alignment and that of his preferred senatorial aspirant Mithika Linturi, the Igembe South MP, is more with Deputy President William Ruto than President Uhuru Kenyatta.
The President enjoys significant political goodwill in the greater Meru but Mr Ruto is still an untested quantity. Besides, he will be running against Mr Munya for president in 2022 if the governor follows through his ambitions.
On Wednesday, Mr Murungi said the race for governorship in Meru “will not be determined by newspapers and doctored opinion polls. It will be determined at the grassroots by the common men and common women of Meru and I have no doubt I am winning this race irrespective of what Infotrack says and I am asking my supporters, who are many, to treat the so-called opinion poll with the contempt that it deserves”.
The Senator formed a political line-up, dubbed Kikali, with Woman Representative Florence Kajuju and Mr Linturi and carried a well-resourced campaign, backed by the government.
Bizarrely, Ms Kajuju was ordered to step down for businesswoman Kawira Mwangaza, ostensibly because her grassroots support had collapsed.
The Ifrotrak Harris poll shows the two women running neck and neck with the incumbent having a slight edge.
Mr Munya, who declined to join Jubilee and is running on the Party of National Unity (PNU), which he took over, has faced spirited opposition from Mr Murungi, who has positioned himself as the Jubilee pointman in Meru.
Meanwhile in Bomet, the poll shows Governor Isaac Ruto would retain his seat if polls were held today, but his re-election hangs by a thin thread as he faces stiff competition from Jubilee’s Joyce Laboso who is also the National Assembly deputy speaker.
The opinion poll released by research firm Infotrak showed that 38.9 per cent of residents back Mr Ruto while Ms Laboso has a 37.7 per cent support.
Governor Ruto’s move to form Chama Cha Mashinani has been a boon to Ms Laboso, who has gained popularity in an area largely perceived as a Jubilee stronghold.
The governor has not been seeing eye-to-eye with Deputy President William Ruto and there are indications that he could support the opposition National Super Alliance presidential candidate.
The deputy president, on the other hand, has visited the county on many occasions, vowing to ensure the political end of the rebellious county boss he perennially accuses of being anti-development.
The other aspirant, Julius Kones, who is also seeking the Jubilee ticket, is supported by just 7.3 per cent of the residents.
The governor drew the first blood in February last year when his party won the Nyangores Ward by-election against a well-oiled Jubilee juggernaut.