As the United Democratic Alliance (UDA) kicked off nationwide nominations, a lucky bunch of politicians were sitting pretty having secured direct nomination tickets from their respective political parties.
Allies of Deputy President William Ruto and ODM leader Raila Odinga have been insulated from competition and already have one foot inside the door even as their counterparts fight to elbow each other out in the primaries slated to run until April 22.
In the governor race, Kenya Kwanza Alliance and Azimio la Umoja One Kenya are leaving nothing to chance and have heavily relied on consensus building and brokering deals to identify candidates.
In Siaya County, Senator James Orengo was on Wednesday handed the ODM direct ticket to contest for the governor seat while in Turkana county Loima MP Jeremiah Lomorukai got the party's nod to vie for governor in the August 9 elections.
Woman Representative Gladys Wanga will battle it out with former Nairobi Governor Evans Kidero (Independent) in the Homa Bay governor race after she secured the ODM direct ticket.
In Kisumu, Governor Anyang’ Nyong’o was also handed the ODM direct ticket to defend his seat to avert a fallout in the party.
In Migori County, Senator Ochillo Ayacko secured the ODM ticket in the race to succeed Governor Okoth Obado.
Mr Ayacko will battle it out with former MPs John Pesa and Dalmas Otieno of DAP-K and Jubilee respectively in the Migori governor race. In Mombasa County, Mvita MP Abdulswamad Mohammed is poised to clinch the ODM direct ticket for governor.
Notably, the ODM party is relying on three opinion polls to decide which candidate gets a direct nomination.
ODM chairperson John Mbadi defended the move to use consensus and direct tickets as “cost-effective” further making a case for the use of opinion polls.
He also dismissed claims of favouritism to Raila’s inner circle in the issuance of the direct nominations.
“In most cases where we have issued direct nominations, it is because there are is no serious competition,” he said.
On the other hand, Ruto’s UDA party settled on Kirinyaga Governor Anne Waiguru to contest for a second term and Senator Hassan Omar as its flag bearer for Mombasa governor.
Ms Waiguru’s competitors include her political nemesis Woman Representative Wangui Ngirici who decamped from UDA to vie as an independent candidate and Narc Kenya party leader Martha Karua who recently joined the Azimio camp.
In Nairobi, Senator Johnson Sakaja has been handed direct nomination to contest for governor against Azimio side that will field either Westlands MP Tim Wanyonyi (ODM), businessman Richard Ngatia (Jubilee) or the latest entrant Polycarp Igathe.
In Nyeri County, Governor Kahiga Mutahi is UDA’s candidate after Ruto struck a deal that saw his rival Wahome Mwangi (Wamatinga) asked to vie for Senate.
In Nakuru, Senator Susan Kihika secured the UDA ticket to vie for governor and will face off with incumbent Governor Lee Kinyanjui who is seeking a second term under the Jubilee Party and the larger Azimio la Umoja One Kenya.
Senator Irungu Kang'ata has set his eyes on the Murang’a governor seat and already has the backing of the party. He is facing stiff completion from Jubilee’s Jamleck Kamau, former Water Principal Secretary Wairagu wa Maai (DP), Farmers Party leader Irungu Nyakera, former Roads Assistant Minister Joshua Toro and pharmacist Moses Mwangi.
In Meru, Senator Mithika Linturi will fly the UDA flag in the governor race while Malindi MP Aisha Jumwa is the candidate for Kilifi governor. In Kwale, deputy governor Fatuma Achani has already received the party’s nod to vie for the governorship.
The Ruto party has however given a wide berth to areas perceived to be Raila’s stronghold, save for Migori county where it has issued Rebecca Maroa with a direct ticket to vie for governorship and John Nyabeya for the Senate.