The joint candidature of Mombasa Governor Ali Hassan Joho and Kakamega Governor Wycliffe Oparanya has surpassed William Ruto and any Kikuyu combination.
While most governors are defending their seats next year, in 2022 the presidential race will see those who survive 2017 eye the presidency.
According to the Jubilee Party pact, DP Ruto will have to pick a Kikuyu running-mate for 2022 with Kiambu Governor William Kabogo seen as the front-runner. Other kikuyu Deputy Presidential materials like Murang’a Governor Mwangi wa Iria, Kigumo MP Jamleck Kamau and Gatundu MP Moses Kuria are also angling to be number two.
Oparanya now though the most senior elected Luhya politician, has avoided outshining Bungoma Senator Moses Wetangula, a principal in the CORD coalition of which ODM is a partner party. He is seen as the heir to Odinga’s western kenya support base both in Luo and Luhya regions.
Kakamega County is also the most populous county with registered voters expected to reach 1.5 million by 2022.
A former Planning Minister during the grand coalition government, Oparanya trounced then KANU minister Amukowa Anangwe to clinch the Butere seat in 2002 under LDP then headed by Raila Odinga. As planning minister, he was also in charge of National Development and Vision 2030.
For Joho; who joined politics in 2004 with a loss during a by-election only to capture the seat in 2007, the coastal kingpin has rose through the ODM ranks to be perched heartbeat away from the top.
Between 2007 and 2013, Joho served as assistant minister for transport. Within ODM, he served as Organizing Secretary before being appointed Deputy Party Leader.
Whichever way it goes, Joho-Oparanya ticket can be either way. It remains to be seen who gets the top slot to challenge the Ruto, with the other deputizing.
Joho and Oparanya are currently serving as joint Deputy Party leaders of the ODM Party with Joho in charge of strategy and mobilization while Oparanya in charge of operations. The ODM Party Leader, Raila Odinga, is believed to have secretly told the two to look beyond 2017.
The ODM Party is said to have decided to strengthen ODM away from CORD and open itself to future eventualities, including new coalitions.
At the same time, Wiper Leader Kalonzo Musyoka and Ford-Kenya leader Moses Wetangula are said to be getting closer for a political deal.
Other leaders who have shown interest for 2022 include Peter Kenneth, Gideon Moi, Peter Munya, Evans Kidero and Isaac Rutto.