Mr Kenneth announced on Thursday that he was ditching his political vehicle, the Kenya National Congress for the new party. This has divided the Jubilee Party establishment in Nairobi with many interpreting it as part of his strategy to position himself for post-2017 Uhuru succession more than a mere change of political gears.
Ms Karua on her part is going for the Kirinyaga governor position. Although unlike Mr Kenneth, she will not quit her party, her decision is still a plus for the President as her supporters are expected to vote for him.
The decision by Peter Kenneth and Martha Karua not to oppose President Uhuru Kenyatta is being seen as a blessing to him but not so to his Jubilee party.
President Kenyatta has indicated that he will support his deputy in 2022, but Mr Kenneth may also come into play as the centre of power in central Kenya and, therefore, play a key role in the Uhuru succession. And this is what is likely to cause disruption in Jubilee.
Mr Kenneth is slowly earning support of some MPs in Nairobi and Murang’a counties but the implication of his bid to Jubilee unity ahead of 2017 has dominated political talk.
His entry in the race will lead to a head-to-head contest with Senator Mike Sonko, Dagoretti South MP Dennis Waweru, Water CS Eugene Wamalwa, Bishop Margaret Wanjiru and nominated MP Johnson Sakaja for the Jubilee ticket.
Kasarani and Embakasi North MPs John Njoroge and Mwangi Gakuya think Mr Kenneth’s future is in Jubilee. “If he wins Jubilee nominations, he could cause nightmares to Governor Evans Kidero,” said Mr Njoroge.
Mr Gakuya said the city governorship would be an ideal platform to groom President Kenyatta’s successor in central Kenya. “When 2022 approaches, we shall need leaders to work out a winning formula with Mr Ruto whom we shall back for the presidency.”
But what is causing anxiety is whether Mr Kenneth will play by this script or he will be more ambitious.
Mr Gakuya said Mr Kenneth’s bid is the surest way to win the Nairobi seat as he is likely to receive votes from some Cord supporters. “We have been trying the card of how to get swing votes away from the traditional Jubilee-Cord divides. We are almost there,” said the MP.
Mr Sakaja, who was part of a group that vowed to block Mr Kenneth on Friday welcomed him in Jubilee but said he must shed his lone ranger approach and join the other aspirants for the Nairobi gubernatorial seat to strategise on how to dislodge Dr Kidero.
“The only formula for defeating Kidero is a united Jubilee and he should join myself, Sonko, Dennis and Bishop in the ongoing discussions of uniting Jubilee,” said Mr Sakaja.
However, the rider that Mr Kenneth’s ambition to be president is still alive even if he runs for a smaller seat in 2017 is what is perhaps causing jitters in Jubilee.
A cross-section of MPs from Jubilee’s heartbeats of both central and Rift Valley are wary the Kenneth bid is more destructive to Jubilee than it would boost it.
Uasin Gishu Governor Jackson Mandago and MPs Alfred Keter (Nandi Hills) and Johanna Ng’eno (Emurua Dikkir) have separately read an ominous sign on the support of Central Kenya.
“The plot is being woven to sabotage Mr Ruto’s ambition. They want to tarnish the DP’s name to make his presidential bid untenable. Our coalition partners owe us support,” Mr Mandago said.
Mr Keter was more blatant. “It is all about Central having a candidate against Mr Ruto in 2022. Governor William Kabogo and Senator Njoroge (Ben) had said Mt Kenya’s support is not automatic for Mr Ruto. We have started to see this reality.”
Mr Ng’eno said Mr Kenneth’s is being prepared to succeed Mr Kenyatta and said the plotters of the scheme were behind the lull on Mr Ruto’s ongoing cases and would revisit them at an opportune time.