The stage is set for a bruising battle for governorship in various counties, with aspirants tactically picking their running mates based on gender, age, professionalism, experience, charisma, fame and ethnic diversity.
Some aspirants, the Nation has established, countered their opponents’ choices by appointing potential deputies with similar values.
In Bomet County, gubernatorial candidates Hillary Barchok, Isaac Ruto and Benard Mutai strategically picked their running mates in a delicate balancing act.
Rope in young votes
Prof Barchok has retained his deputy, Mr Shadrack Rotich, as he seeks a second term in office on a United Democratic Alliance ticket. Mr Ruto, a former governor, picked 29-year-old Doris Chepkoech, an economics and sociology graduate from Egerton University, in what is seen as a bid to rope in young voters and women.
Mr Mutai of Amani National Congress (ANC) has picked Mrs Elizabeth Langat, who served as the Agriculture Executive in Mr Ruto’s administration. Ms Langat, an agricultural scientist, comes from Konoin constituency, which is seen to have been sidelined in the deputy governor’s position by the first three administrations.
In Kericho, Dr Erick Mutai, who will be flying the UDA flag, picked Mr Fred Kirui, who gave up the governor race to settle for deputy.
In what is shaping up as a two-horse race, independent candidate Samwel Rotich picked Elijah Kiru Maru as running mate.
Dr Mutai from Bureti constituency is a former Embu University lecturer, while Mr Kirui, an engineer and prominent dairy farmer, comes from Kipkelion West constituency.
For the two, it was a marriage of convenience that was conceived to beat former Devolution Cabinet Secretary Charles Keter in the party primaries.
The move that was seen as a major gamble paid off, with Mr Keter, who has vast experience and deep pockets, having his political career brought to a crashing end.
In Elgeyo Marakwet, Deputy Governor Wesley Rotich, 34, picked University of Eldoret don Grace Cheserek, 53, as his running mate. She is the head of partnerships at the university and a former board chairperson at the National Employment Authority.
Former Sasini MD Moses Changwony (independent) picked Elgeyo Marakwet nurses union leader Benson Biwott as his running mate, saying, he is knowledgeable on project management and has insight on issues affecting Kerio Valley, in addition to his impeccable integrity.
National Vision Party’s Anthony Chelimo selected Mr Benson Rotich, a financial and audit expert.
In Baringo, former governor Benjamin Cheboi picked 65-year-old Charles Kipng’ok from Baringo Central, a former general manager at the Kenya Tea Development Authority as his running mate, saying, he is a seasoned manager in industry and production, a key factor that he said would spur value addition.
In Bungoma, Mr Zacharia Baraza picked former intelligence officer Mr Kingsley Mutali from the Tachoni community as his running mate. He was instrumental in the recent degazettement of the Nabuyole Falls Forest, which was restored to community ownership early this year.
In Trans Nzoia, former Rift Valley Regional Commissioner George Natembeya (Democratic Action Party-Kenya) picked former banker Philomena Binea Kapkori, in a bid to woo women and the Kalenjin vote, while Kiminini MP Chris Wamalwa picked former high school principal Bethwel Kirior, eyeing Kalenjin votes.
In West Pokot, Governor John Lonyangapuo, who is defending his seat on a Kenya Union Party (KUP) ticket, chose Mr Simon Koudomuk Kachapin, a former Chewoyet High School teacher as his running mate.
Former West Pokot Governor Simon Kachapin, who resigned as Sports Chief Administrative Secretary, has named Suam MCA Robert Komole as his running mate. Mr Kachapin is vying on a UDA ticket.
Mr Komole’s choice is meant to woo the vote-rich North Pokot Sub-county, from where Mr Komole comes from.
In Nandi, Governor Stephen Sang has retained 49-year-old Deputy Governor Yulita Cheruiyot for his second term bid. In Nakuru, Governor Lee Kinyanjui and his opponent, Ms Susan Kihika, picked their running mates from the Kalenjin community. Kalenjins are the second largest tribe after Kikuyu in the county.
Mr Kinyanjui dropped his deputy, Dr Eric Korir, and named Ms Francisca Kamuren, while Ms Kihika picked Kuresoi South teacher David Kones. In a region with 1,050,367 votes, the Kalenjin voter bloc is significant and could determine the seat’s winner.
Mr Kinyanjui also settled on Ms Kamuren in a bid to win over women voters, his aides revealed yesterday.
In Nyandarua, Governor Francis Kimemia, who will be contesting on a Jubilee ticket, picked Joseph Mbugua as his running mate, exhibiting his prowess at poaching the best brains from the public and private sector to serve in his government.
In Murang’a, Mr Irungu Kang’ata (UDA) picked Dr Winfred Njeri Mwangi, a land economist with 20 years’ experience. Farmers Party aspirant Irungu Nyakera picked Ms Catherine Mugo, a sociologist and lawyer, who served as a member of the county assembly and s a director of the County Assembly Board.
Jubilee’s Jamleck Kamau has picked Dr Naomi Kagone, who has two bachelor degrees in Education and Business Studies, Masters in Science and a doctorate in entrepreneurship.
Share of Maara votes
In Kirinyaga, Woman Rep Wangui Ngirici, who is running as an independent, picked former Kenya Revenue Authority assistant commissioner Eliud Wanjao.
In Laikipia, Governor Ndiritu Muriithi picked Mr Michael Waigwa as his preferred running mate as deputy governor John Mwaniki contests for the county’s Senate seat on Jubilee Party ticket.
In Meru, while governor Kiraitu Murungi will retain his deputy Titus Ntuchiu, his main challenger Mithika Linturi settled on Ms Linda Kiome, a lawyer.
While Mr Ntuchiu comes from Tigania West, Ms Kiome hails from Imenti North, which hosts Meru town. Mr Kiraitu’s other challenger, Woman Rep Kawira Mwangaza, settled on Mr Isaac Mutuma, a Methodist minister and son of former Njuri Ncheke chairman Paul M’Ethingia.
In Tharaka Nithi, former Chuka University vice-chancellor Erastus Njoka, who is vying on a Jubilee Party ticket, picked former Meru National Polytechnic principal Mucee Rukunja as his running mate.
The choice of Dr Rukunja from Tharaka constituency should boost Prof Njoka's campaigns in the region according to Tharaka University College principal, Prof Kinyua Muriungi.
The Narc Kenya gubernatorial candidate, Dr Mzalendo Kibunjia, settled on Mr Micheni Ruriani from Kieni in Maara constituency with the choice expected to help Dr Kibunjia, who comes from Tharaka constituency, get a share of Maara votes.
In Coast, most aspirants seemed to have placed a sharp focus on ethnicity, cultural identity and religion. Orange Democratic Movement gubernatorial candidate Abdulswamad Nassir picked Francis Thoya, who has boosted Mr Nassir’s candidature, having a huge following from the majority Mijikenda and Luo communities.
His opponent Mike Sonko (Wiper), also tapped into the populous Mijikenda vote, picking Kisauni MP Ali Mbogo. The choice was also informed by religion.
In Kwale, Speaker Sammy Ruwa, an independent candidate, picked youthful Zainab Hassan Mwalupa, a Digo, for running mate.
Gereza Dena (Kanu), chose Samira Mohamed, also a Digo. Pamoja African Alliance (PAA) candidate Lung’anzi Chai, who is a Duruma, has appointed Kavwa Said Mwakaribu, a Digo, as his running mate.
UDA’s Fatuma Achani — the only female gubernatorial aspirant — has Samburu Chengoni MCA Chirema Kombo to help garner votes from the Duruma community.
Governor Fahim Twaha (Jubilee, Lamu) retained Hajj Mahmoud while Issa Timamy (ANC) picked Raphael Munywa.
Umra Omar of the Safina Party has Julius Ndegwa in an intricate balance of ethnicity in the mostly Swahili/Arabs and Kikuyu dominated county.
In Taita Taveta, Governor Granton Samboja has unveiled former Voi mayor Priscilla Mwangeka and dropped his deputy Majala Mlaghui with whom they’ve had a fallout since 2019.
In Tana River, former governor Hussein Dado of UDA has picked former Garsen MP Ibrahim Sane in a strategy to split the Wardei vote and scuttle former Speaker Nuh Nassir's bid. Dr Nassir picked former Kilifi Mariakani Water and Sewerage Company head of internal Uruji Daido as his running mate.
In Kakamega County, while the ANC flagbearer,Senator Cleophas Malala, has settled on a woman, Dr Beatrice Inyangala, as running mate, his ODM rival, Mr Fernandes Baraza, chose Lugari MP Ayub Savula.
Mr Baraza, who resigned as the chief executive of the Kenya Electricity Transmission Company to run for governor, had initially settled on Mr Innocent Mugabe — Mombasa County chief officer for Youth, Gender and Sports — as his running mate.
Mr Malala, who enjoys support from the youth and women bloc, picked Dr Inyangala in a bid to win the support of voters from Malava constituency and from women.
In Vihiga County, gubernatorial aspirants have picked their running mates while focusing on the youth and battlegrounds.
For Senator George Khaniri, youth was the driving factor in his naming of Mr Jerald Samoyo as running mate, pointing to his plan to inject fresh blood into his campaigns and attract the active population to support his bid.
In Homa Bay County, Woman Representative Gladys Wanga picked former Kasipul MP Oyugi Magwanga as her running mate after a consensus meeting between other aspirants for the position.
ODM intervened to ensure Mr Magwanga was picked as a running mate to calm supporters of the Kasipul MP after it emerged that Ms Wanga planned to settle on Central Karachuonyo ward representative Julius Gaya as her running mate.
The race to succeed Governor Cornell Rasanga in Siaya county is a two-horse race that pits Senator James Orengo of ODM against former Rarieda MP Nicholas Gumbo of United Democratic Movement.
They both decided to choose running mates from Alego Usonga, the largest constituency in the county with over 123,000 voters.
Mr Orengo has settled on Mr William Oduol, while Mr Gumbo settled on former police spokesman Charles Owino, who has dropped out of the race.
Reporting by Vitalis Kimutai, Eric Matara, Waikwa Maina, Geoffrey Ondieki, Gitonga Marete, Mwangi Muiruri, George Munene, Alex Njeru, James Murimi, Fred Kibor, Sammy Lutta, Florah Koech, Brian Ojamaa, Geral Bwisa, Oscar Kakai, Tom Matoke, Winnie Atieno, Siago Cece, Kalume Kazungu, Philip Muyanga, Lucy Mkanyika, Maureen Ongala And Stephen Odour, Benson Amadala, Rushdie Oudia, Derick Luvega, Ruth Mbula, George Odiwuor, and Kassim Adinasi