The Nyanza region has been an Orange Democratic Party (ODM), stronghold if previous general elections are anything to go by. It is unlikely that an aspirant would go against the word of party leader Raila Odinga and expect to win an elective seat in the region.
However, this year’s general election could prove to be different. Independents and candidates from other affiliated parties are giving ODM candidates a run for their money in various positions in the lake region.
In Siaya county, Raila's home turf, ODM candidate Senator James Orengo is facing a formidable opponent - Nicholas Gumbo of the United Democratic Movement.
Orengo, a seasoned politician and confidant of Raila is burning the midnight oil to ward off Gumbo's effect, with pundits holding that anything is possible.
However, recent polls have indicated that UDM’s Gumbo is a front runner in the race. Gumbo also ran in 2017 as an independent candidate but lost to Colonel Rasanga with179,368 votes against Rasanga’s 198,889.
In Kisumu, incumbent Governor Peter Anyang Nyong’o is also facing a similar hurdle in his quest to defend his seat. Nyong’o is battling it out with former Governor Jack Ranguma of the Movement for Democracy and Growth, MDG. Ranguma had fallen out with the ODM party after its decision to hand the incumbent a direct nomination ticket.
Despite being a close ally of Raila and a veteran politician in the region, Nyong’o has failed to consolidate an easy win for himself in the face of Ranguma’s opposition.
A similar challenge is facing ODM's candidate in Homa Bay County, Gladys Wanga. Wanga, currently serving as the area's Woman Representative, will face former Nairobi Governor Evans Kidero who is vying as an independent candidate.
Kidero was also disappointed after ODM’s decision to hand Wanga a direct ticket. The two are expected to stage a fierce tug of war in the race to succeed current governor Cyprian Awiti, who is serving his second and final term.
Things are no different in Migori County, another Nyanza region where ODM has enjoyed massive support in the past. Current Senator Ochillo Oyacko will battle it out with, among others, former MP John Pesa.
Senator Oyacko is vying on an ODM ticket while John Pesa will be on the Democratic Alliance party ticket, DAP. The race is also promising to be one worth watching as the two front runners seek to succeed a second term governor Okoth Obado.
These intrigues could be an indicator of how ODM is ceding ground to other Azimio-affiliated parties. The issue of Azimio coalition fielding different candidates in the forthcoming elections has led to the proposed zoning regions and subsequently fielding the strongest candidates.
The zoning strategy, which has been vehemently opposed by perceived weak candidates, was seen as remedy to the sibling rivalry, which could dent Azimio fortunes, especially in areas where Raila and Kenya Kwanza's William Ruto enjoy huge support.