The meeting is over. That is how the people of Bomet summarise Governor Isaac Ruto’s loss to National Assembly Deputy Speaker Joyce Laboso.
The phrase became popular when Mr Ruto threatened to bring to a close a meeting attended by his namesake, Deputy President William Ruto, in which the county boss was heckled.
Dr Laboso’s resounding win sent the combative orator to political oblivion, for now.
Jubilee pumped a lot of money into the county to neutralise his influence.
The county boss has not been seen in public since he voted in Tumoi Village on August 8.
Worse still, he was swept aside with his would-be foot soldiers in his Chama Cha Mashinani; Mr Patrick Ntutu who contested the Narok governor seat and Kuresoi South MP Zakayo Cheruiyot.
Only Emurua Dikkir MP Yohanna Ngeno sailed through, thanks to his Kanu ticket and rigorous campaigns.
Mr Ruto was caricatured by a cartoonist in a daily at a roundabout, undecided on whether to take the Jubilee or National Super Alliance route. That was before he joined Nasa.
Analysts say the absence of Mr Ruto and his allies in the political scene would be loud.
Mr Joel Soi, a political scientist at Maasai Mara University says the outgoing governor could make a comeback in three ways.
First, Mr Ruto could mend his relationship with the Jubilee government.
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The governor could take advantage of Dr Laboso’s failure to spring a surprise in 2022.
Lastly, he may gang up with DP Ruto’s rivals and create a force that would deny him a chance to be president.
“There was not much choice among the people. Because of his abrasive and rebellious nature, Mr Ruto’s relationship with the county government’s employees was not the best. The other mistake was joining the opposition ranks,” Mr Soi said.
He added that if the incoming governor failed to salvage the situation, that would be her end.
“She has to be proactive politically and provide services. If she fails to maintain Ruto’s tempo, residents will be bored,” the don said, adding that Dr Laboso must strike a delicate balance between embracing the people hired by the outgoing county boss and ensuring no laxity in services.
There are fears that Dr Laboso will dismiss people employed arbitrarily by the devolved unit.
Another possibility is for the two Rutos to bury the hatchet, though it seems difficult.
Now that CCM has two MPs (Narok and Chepalungu) and several MCAs, Mr Ruto might be willing to be accommodated by Jubilee under some terms.
However, Laikipia University don Malawi Rotich said it would take a while for Mr Ruto to be accepted in the Jubilee fold.
“He should cool his heels first then go back to the drawing board and re-strategise,” Prof Rotich said.
Mr Soi says one must fight in politics as it is a competition.
“It should not be long term enmity. Mr Ruto could be useful to the deputy president, especially in marshalling votes for 2022. But what I know is that DP Ruto fears his namesake,” he added.
Mr Soi said if the DP approved of the outgoing governor, it would give him a leeway to build his base among the Kipsigis, the most populous Kalenjin sub-tribe.
Nonetheless, DP could also be courting disaster in maintaining Mr Ruto as an adversary. It is highly probable that the former Chepalungu MP would team up with Baringo Senator Gideon Moi, who has declared intention to gun for presidency in 2022.
By retaining his Baringo Senate seat, Mr Soi argues, Mr Moi has been reaffirmed as the Tugen Kingpin. He beat Mr Simon Chelugui, widely viewed as the DP’s project.
There is a feeling among Kipsigis quarters that their votes could have aided the DP in bringing down all their strong leaders. They equate it to “heeding advice from an outsider to kill your wife”.
Joining Nasa could have been Mr Ruto’s undoing, considering the South Rift is largely a Jubilee stronghold, based on the 2013 voting patterns.
Earlier, some leaders advised him to play safe by desisting from supporting any of the major political parties.
He later changed his mind and summoned Kipsigis elders and CCM hopefuls to Bomet Stadium.
The elders gave him the power to choose the presidential candidate “who means well for the county”.
The governor endorsed Nasa presidential candidate Raila Odinga. In 2012, Mr Ruto led the exodus of the Kalenjin from Mr Odinga’s ODM, saying it no longer served the region’s interests.
After being elected governor on a United Republican Party, Mr Ruto fell out with his namesake. He called the DP a dictator and was also against folding of URP to form Jubilee.
As Council of Governors chairman, he accused the national government’s of stifling devolution by delaying disbursement of funds.
He also opposed the government’s medical equipment deal and was the last governor to sign up.
Former ODM executive director Magerer Langat predicted Mr Ruto’s downfall, warning that he could end up in the cold just like him when he stuck with the opposition in 2013.
“Isaac is doing what I did but it will not translate to votes,” said Mr Magerer.
He downplayed the influence of CCM and Kanu in the South Rift, saying the Kalenjin votes were intact in Jubilee.
Mr Ruto had a lot of faith in his party guaranteeing him a second term, considering that his candidate had won the Nyongores Ward by-election in 2015, sending jitters among Jubilee supporters.
His loss to Dr Laboso is not only a humiliation to Nasa but also a possible annihilation of political ambitions for a man who wanted to tame DP Ruto’s rising influence in the Rift Valley.
It appears the endorsement he got from some Kipsigis elders and the many Nasa rallies amounted to nothing.
The governor often pushed the idea that Dr Laboso was an outsider as she is married in Kisumu, but Jubilee said he hired crowds for his rallies.
Dr Laboso pledged to fight corruption in the devolved unit.
“The governor has no development record,” Dr Laboso said at her manifesto launch in Bomet attended by President Kenyatta.
“We must change that and ensure devolution works.”
Mr Masoud Mwahima lost his bid to defend the Likoni parliamentary seat.