Amani National Congress (ANC) leader Musalia Mudavadi is between a rock and a hard place as his party prepares to pick a candidate for Kakamega gubernatorial seat.
With the number of individuals likely to seek the party ticket rising, Mudavadi could be spoilt for choice, but this may also test the ANC's ability to remain relevant in its stronghold.
Among ANC members keen to succeed Governor Wycliffe Oparanya are Senator Cleophas Malala, former Cabinet minister Amukoa Anangwe who is a Mudavadi strategist, Lugari MP Ayub Savula and lawyer Michael Osundwa.
All of them are allies of Mudavadi, with Osundwa having run for the seat on ANC ticket in 2017. The four ANC politicians are among others who have been traversing the county to popularise their bids.
Others in the gubernatorial race are Deputy Governor Philip Kutima, former Senator Boni Khalwale, Kakamega County Assembly Clerk Laban Atemba, and Kenya Electricity Transmission Company CEO Fernandes Barasa.
Lawyer Leonard Shimaka from Kakamega North and Sam Omukoko, the MD of Metropol Corporation, are also eyeing the seat.
Kakamega governor seat has eluded Mudavadi since 2013. Former Provincial Commissioner Paul Olando, who was UDF's candidate in 2013, came third in the race won by Oparanya who vied on ODM. Oparanya is the ODM's deputy party leader.
Emmanuela Mulaa, a political scientist from the University of Nairobi said 2022 offers a chance for ANC to redeem itself.
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"The governorship race of 2022 presents a litmus paper for Mudavadi and his ANC party," said Mulaa.
She added: "ANC will remain solid or disintegrate depending on how he will handle the nominations given that the candidates are his allies.” According to Ms Mulaa, ANC could easily pick a candidate for the governor seat through consensus to avert a fallout.
Kabras West MCA David Ndakwa said if the nominations are free and fair, no one will ditch the party. that nobody will ditch the party.
Political analyst Daniel Nyangweso said if any of the candidates will walk away, it might complicate matter for ANC.