The emergence of former Interior minister Joseph Ole Lenku as the Jubilee nominee in Kajiado County politics has thrown in new dynamics that are expected to shape the August poll outcome.
Mr Lenku, a newcomer, beat former Kajiado County Council chairman Tarayia Ole Kores for the Jubilee gubernatorial ticket, garnering 88,105 votes against Mr Kores's 37,690 votes.
The ticket now puts Mr Lenku at pole position to battle with Governor David Nkedianye, a now entrenched political operative in the county.
Dr Nkedianye has retained his Deputy Paul Ntiati as his running mate while Mr Lenku chose 32-year-old Martin Moshisho, gaining traction with local youth. Mr Moshisho is a former president of the Maa University Students, and a tough campaigner
Mr Lenku outmanoeuvred experienced players such as Mr Kores and other gubernatorial hopefuls, including Daniel Nina Livondo and George King’ori.
It is not yet clear if the nomination losers are now fully behind Mr Lenku, but there is an advanced plan to incorporate them so as to ward off Dr Nkedianye’s overtures to them.
Yesterday, Mr Kingori said, “The Jubilee family has not healed from the nomination bruises. To win, everyone needs to be brought on board. Jubilee must move fast, otherwise, the overtures by the incumbent can easily convert those aggrieved.”
Of the four challengers, only Moses Parantai has faded off quietly. Mr Kores has been sulking, with his supporters vowing to reconsider their gubernatorial choice.
Mr King’ori has vowed to run as an independent, while Mr Nina had earlier decamped from Jubilee to PNU.
“The Jubilee family will be united against the outgoing governor. [Including] those who participated in the primaries is paramount for our win. No one should feel like they lost. The bigger battle is ahead,” Mr Lenku said.
It seems Dr Nkedianye and Mr Lenku have each sought to outmanoeuvre each other on the tricky clan matrix, a key determiner of poll outcomes.
Dr Nkedianye hails from the Odomong’i clan while Mr Lenku is from the more populous Orokiteng’ clan. Mr Ntiati comes from the same clan as Mr Lenku in Kajiado South while Mr Moshisho is from the populous Matapato section in Kajiado Central.
The Matapato section belongs to the Odomong’i clan, meaning both candidates have picked their running mates from their opponent’s strongholds.
Although Dr Nkedianye and Interior Cabinet Secretary Joseph Nkaissery hail from the Odomong’i clan, the influential minister has thrown his weight behind Mr Lenku.
In the recent past, Dr Nkedianye has come under fire from some sub-clans in the Odomong’i clan over accusations that he has “over-rewarded” his Ilmokesen sub-clan on employment and other county goodies.
“Both candidates have sought to consolidate specific clan interests in Kajiado before venturing out to seek other votes,” confirms Kajiado Senator Peter Mositet.
Mr Mositet avers that although the clan matrix will largely influence how the community votes, other factors such as the sizable migrant populations will matter.
The Lenku scare has re-energised the hitherto docile governor, who is now more visible and seems to go for Mr Lenku’s jugular.
To counter Mr Lenku, Dr Nkedianye’s first point of call was in Loitokitok on May 13 where about 3,000 people defected from Jubilee to ODM during a huge rally.
But clan dynamics aside, the significance of migrant communities that dot the fast-growing satellite towns is likely to determine the winner.
The communities are split in a ratio of one to 3, where the Jubilee leaning are the majority.
When Mr Kores, the TNA candidate, was barred from running in 2013 over questionable academic papers, most of these voters, mainly the small-holder traders, went to the URP candidate, Mr Livondo, who eventually polled 95,526 votes against Dr Nkedianye’s 125,526.
The two candidates are currently fighting for this segment of the voters, although Mr Lenku seems shoulders higher on this front.
Dr Nkedianye has been unable to shake off the tag of being "anti-migrant", due to punitive measures against small-time investors in the county.
A key area of concern was the allocation of market facilities in Kitengela, where locals were favoured, leading to bloodshed.