Running mate factor in Kakamega race ahead of 2022 polls
Aspirants for the Kakamega gubernatorial seat are racking their brains to ensure they pick a running mate who can add value to their ticket in next year’s election.
Those who have already declared intention to run for the seat include Deputy Governor Prof. Philip Kutima, Senator Cleophas Malalah, Lugari MP Ayub Savula, former Senator Boni Khalwale and former Cabinet minister Amukowa Anangwe.
Others are Kenya Electricity Transmission Company CEO Fernandes Barasa, Sam Omukoko of Metropol, County Assembly Clerk Laban Atemba, businessmen Michael Osundwa and Leonard Shimaka.
After months of blowing hot and cold about his intentions, Malalah on Saturday declared that he is in the race.
“I believe I am ripe to take our county to the next level as the second governor,” said Malalah who served as a member of the Kakamega County Assembly between 2013 and 2017 before ascending to the Senate.
Governor Wycliffe Oparanya is not eligible to run after serving two terms.
Kutima is said to be considering either Omukoko or former Butere MP Andrew Toboso as his running mate.
Khalwale is reportedly eyeing Paul Posho, a former advisor to Oparanya, as his number two. He has also approached Toboso and Osundwa.
Posho admitted that talks between him and Khalwale were in progress but did not go into details. “It is not in order for me to make such an announcement. But I am currently focusing on the Matungu parliamentary seat,” he said.
Barasa, who is making his debut in elective politics, is said to prefer either Shinyalu MP Justus Kizito or Malava politician John Imbogo.
But Kizito said the position of deputy governor would, to him, amount to a demotion.
“I am a two-term MP and the only seats I can vie for are either governor, presidential running mate or the presidency. For now, I am interested in retaining my seat,” he said.
Imbogo said he was hearing about reports that he was being considered for position of Barasa’s running-mate “from people and the media.”
“Let us wait for the decision and announcement from the gubernatorial aspirant. My options are wide open,” he said.
The gubernatorial aspirants are mainly looking for a running mate from a different part of the county, with the hope of strengthening their ticket.
Kakamega is politically divided into the southern and northern zones. The southern zone comprises of Butere, where Oparanya and Anangwe come from, and Khwisero, the home of Omukoko.
Mumias West and Matungu, where Barasa has settled though originally from Mumias East, also fall on he Southern Zone.
The northern zone has Ikolomani, the home of Khalwale, Shinyalu, Kutima’s Malava, Navakholo, Lurambi, Likuyani and Lugari where Savula comes from.
Candidates from the southern zone are, therefore, keen to pick a deputy from the northern zone and vice versa to balance the ticket.
Some of the aspirants yesterday said they already had a line-up that they would unveil them at “right time”.
“I have several options but I can not let the cat out of the bag at the moment lest I play into the snares of my opponents,” said Anangwe.
Analysts said the aspirants were cautious not to reveal their running mate at this stage while others were yet to make up their mind.
“This race is between Malalah, Kutima, Barasa, Khalwale, Anangwe and Savula. These ones can easily find a running mate,” said Desterio Okumu, who comments on the county’s politics.
Party affiliation is also a major issue as some of the possible running mates are unwilling to quit their current parties and join gubernatorial candidates who belong to other parties.
“Many of our aspirants have already aligned themselves to either ANC, ODM or UDA so it can be difficult for, let us say, an aspirant affiliated to ODM finding a running mate who supports ANC,” said Fred Wesonga, another analyst.
Kakamega had 743,736 registered voters in the 2017 General Election, according to the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission.
If numbers were to be a factor, Malava would be the favourite hunting ground for a running mate as it has the highest number of voters in the county.
The constituency, where Kutima, Imbogo and Shimaka come from, had 82,136 voters in the last polls.
It is followed by Lurambi with 80,037 voters. Malalah has settled in Lurambi.
Savula’s Lugari is third with 77,001 voters while Kizito’s Shinyalu comes fourth with 71,256 voters. Likuyani is fifth with 63,311 voters while Oparanya and Anangwe’s Butere had 62,956 voters.
Matungu has 61,728 voters, Navakholo 53,620, Ikolomani 49,899, Khwisero 48,920, Mumias West 47,492 and Mumias East 45,380.
But there are no particular voting patterns in Kakamega going by the 2013 and 2017 polls where Oparanya won even in the strongholds of his opponents.
For instance in 2017, he beat Khalwale in Ikolomani, including his own Malinya polling station.