At least 10 first-term senators are planning to vie for the governor’s seat in the 2022 election.
Senators Susan Kihika (Nakuru), Irungu Kang’ata (Murang’a), Cleophas Malala (Kakamega), Ochillo Ayacko (Migori), Ledama ole Kina (Narok), Fred Outa (Kisumu), Samson Cherargei (Nandi), Dr Christopher Lang’at (Bomet), Johnson Sakaja (Nairobi) and Prof Malachy Ekal (Turkana) have expressed interest in the seat.
It is a political gamble for the senators, an attempt that saw five of them fall in 2017. Hassan Omar (Mombasa), Boni Khalwale (Kakamega), James Mungai (Nakuru), David Musila (Kitui) and Lenny Kivuti (Embu) failed in their quest to become governors.
Nairobi’s Mike Sonko, Prof John Lonyangapuo of West Pokot, Prof Anyang Nyong’o of Kisumu, Mr Sang, and Meru’s Kiraitu Murungi, however, succeeded.
As he sets his eyes on the seat again in 2022, Senator Omar says he does not regret his move. He says that he would have been re-elected with a huge margin had he stuck with the Senate.
“I knew that I was going to win the senatorial seat. All indications and scientific reports had demonstrated to me that the Senate seat was mine to take. But for me, I like going for challenges. Things that are less easy. For instance, I had seen the kind of vicious and inept first-term of Joho. I was sure that people of Mombasa could not afford another five years but I have been vindicated now,” Mr Omar told the Nation.
The ex-Mombasa senator now allied to DP William Ruto says UDA has made inroads at the Coast, giving him confidence of a win in 2022.
“ODM has lost substantive support in the region. This time round, it is going to be hard for them,” said Mr Omar.
For the senators, they are capitalising on their roles in the Senate of protecting devolution and have been critical of performance of the county bosses.
County chiefs are more powerful than senators, earning Sh924,000 compared to the latter’s Sh740,927. There is also the fact that unlike senators, governors control the county funds.
As a first-term senator, Mr Kang’ata says that politics is a gamble regardless of the seat one intends to vie.
“What matters is whether one has an agenda for the county. In particular, for me I will champion for health and minimum guaranteed returns for our crops.”
Senator Malala confirmed to the Nation that he has aspirations to succeed Governor Oparanya.
Youth role model
“When the time comes, I want to be a role model to the youth by telling them that they should take up these positions. These executive positions are not only for the old guards,” said Mr Malala.
Ms Kihika, who was Nakuru Speaker between 2013 and 2017 before winning the Senate race, says hers is more than just dislodging Governor Lee Kinyanjui.
“I am definitely going for it. In the whole country, we had three female governors. But, after the demise of (Dr) Joyce Laboso, we now have two. In 2022, I want to join the league of women governors,” said Senator Kihika.
In Kisumu, Senator Outa wants to dislodge Governor Nyong’o.
In Turkana, Senator Ekal has embarked on grassroots mobilisation as he seeks to succeed Governor Josphat Nanok who is serving his last term.
“I have begun a clear, inclusive and structured engagement with our people to concretise and prosecute our broad and solid plans for a better Turkana,” he said.