Chama Cha Mashinani Party leader Isaac Ruto’s political career now hangs in the balance after he lost the Bomet governor seat to Prof Hillary Barchok.
Ruto, who was trying to make a comeback after losing the governor seat in 2017 to the late Joyce Laboso, emerged second after garnering 137,323 votes.
The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) declared Barchok, who got 158,798 votes, the winner. Bernard Mutai of ANC emerged third with 1,915 votes.
Ruto was touted as the favourite with pundits and pollsters predicting a landslide victory for him, but Barchok capitalised on the UDA wave to turn the tables on him.
Ruto’s decision to hold onto his CCM party against Deputy President William Ruto asking him to join UDA led to his loss.
Opponents capitalised on Ruto’s decision to brand him an Azimio sympathiser and asked UDA supporters to shun him.
Barchok claimed that the CCM party leader was campaigning for Kenya Kwanza during the day and dining with Azimio at night.
He accused Ruto of being funded by Azimio to undermine the deputy president forcing Ruto to spend his time on the campaign trail fighting the allegation. He accused the Barchok’s campaign of spreading propaganda rather than selling their development agenda even as opponents painted him as a rebel out to spoil the party for the deputy president in the Rift Valley.
His momentum was slowed during the last days of the campaigns when the deputy president called on the residents to vote for UDA candidates only.
Ivor Korir, a political analyst in South Rift said the UDA’s politics was not favourable to Ruto’s CCM ideals and his candidature.
“Isaac was perceived as a rebel for failing to fold his party and as a mole because of his previous alignment with Azimio presidential candidate Raila Odinga. The voters and the deputy president did not trust him.”
Korir said that Ruto’s his failure to sign a coalition agreement with Kenya Kwanza raised eyebrows and people became suspicious of his political loyalty.
He said Ruto’s future in politics hangs in the balance because of his age as young leaders are coming up and that will make it hard for him to make a comeback.
Albert Kochei, the CCM secretary general has however disputed the argument saying Ruto supported the deputy president wholeheartedly, saying opponents are looking for excuses to cover election malpractices.
Kochei said the election outcome does not reflect the will of the people of Bomet claiming the results were manufactured in the boardroom.
“When you want to kill a dog give it a bad name and that is exactly what our opponents are doing and cleanse their illegal win,” he said.
Kochei insists Ruto was rigged out saying they will announce the next course of action after consultations.
Ruto’s role in the Building Bridges Initiative fronted by Azimio flag bearer also cost him the victory.
“Isaac’s support for BBI is what made voters see him as an Azimio mole. Coupled with the fact that he has been a fierce critic of DP Ruto in the past, Isaac could not convince the voters,” said political analyst Raymond Langat.