Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho is believed to have settled on a university lecturer to be his running mate.
That means he has dropped County Executive Francis Thoya who had been touted as a favourite for the post.
Mr Joho’s handlers told the Saturday Nation that Mr Thoya’s selection had been reversed after intense lobbying by a group close to the governor who preferred Technical University of Mombasa (TUM) lecturer William Kingi.
KATANA LEAVES ODM
Some powerful individuals - who Mr Thoya is said to have rubbed the wrong way - are said to have pushed for his replacement.
Dr Kingi is the university’s Dean of the School of Business and also the Jumuia ya Kaunti za Pwani (JKP) secretary.
JKP is an economic bloc bringing together all the six Coast counties.
Mr Joho’s Deputy Governor, Ms Hazel Katana, ditched ODM to join the Jubilee Party.
She is now eyeing the Mombasa senatorial seat on a Jubilee ticket.
Yesterday, the Mombasa Director of Communications, Mr Richard Chacha, said he was not aware of the change that led to Mr Thoya being dropped.
“I have not been told anything by either the Governor or anybody else. What I know is announcing a running mate is the governor’s prerogative.
"I am sure he will make the announcement of whom he has settled on in due course,” Mr Chacha said.
Sources within the governor’s administration hinted that Mr Joho would make the announcement in less than a week.
Mr Thoya, who served as Lands Executive before being promoted to County Secretary, had been picked out of three frontrunners; Dr Kingi and Education and Children Executive Tendai Lewa Mtana.
Mr Thoya is a former journalist and had been favoured for the seat due to the support he enjoys in the county.
Like Ms Katana, Mr Thoya hails from the Mijikenda group that controls at least 52 per cent of all the votes in the county.
So are Dr Kingi and Mr Mtana.
Mr Joho, a Muslim, has been keen on naming a Christian as his running mate to promote religious harmony in the cosmopolitan county.
Mr Joho’s rival from Wiper, Mr Hassan Omar, is yet to announce his running mate.
He is said to be hunting for one from the Mijikenda community, which carries a large vote bloc.
The Jubilee candidate Mr Suleiman Shahbal has already settled on former Kisauni MP Ananiah Mwaboza for running mate.
He too is seeking to unseat Mr Joho.
Also in the race is Vibrant Democratic Party candidate Hezron Awiti, also the Nyali MP, who picked Mr Hassan Mwamtoa, a banker, for running mate.
Both are from the Mijikenda community.
In Kilifi, Governor Amason Kingi is likely to settle on his County Executive for Tourism, Mr Gideon Saburi, to be his running mate.
Unconfirmed reports said that Mr Saburi was picked from three possible candidates who were interviewed for the job; himself, Mr George Mazuri and Mr Issa Makenzi.
Governor Kingi was keen to pick a candidate from either the Rabai, Ribe or Kambe community, which gave him many votes in 2013.
His deputy in the 2013 polls, Kenneth Mwakombo Kamto, defected from ODM and joined the Jubilee Party where he was selected as running mate for Governor Kingi’s rival, Mr Gideon Mung’aro.
In Taita Taveta, the Amani National Congress (ANC) candidate for the governor’s post, Ms Jacinta Mwatela, is yet to identify her running mate.
It is still not clear who will be the ODM candidate in the county because Governor John Mruttu and Wundanyi MP Thomas Mwadeghu are locked in a dispute over the results of the nomination.
The dispute is still in court. Mr Mruttu had challenged ODM’s decision to give a certificate to Mr Mwadeghu, arguing that voting did not take place in five polling stations in Taveta sub-county, which are his strongholds.
Wiper’s Ali Chirau Mwakwere in Kwale County dropped his running mate, former Kinango MP Simon Mwero Mkala, who immediately joined ODM candidate Issa Chipera in the same capacity.
Mr Mwakwere is believed to have approached the 2013 gubernatorial loser, Mr Michael Chidzao Nyanje, for a possible running mate, but talks have not been concluded.
Kwale Speaker Sammy Ruwa, an independent candidate, has not announced his running mate.
He chose to vie as an independent after losing in the nomination to Mr Chipera.
Kwale Governor Salim Mvurya, who also ditched ODM for Jubilee, has stuck with his running mate, Ms Fatuma Achani.
ODM candidate in Kwale County, Issah Chipera, settled on former Kinango MP Simeon Mwero Mkalla as his running mate when the latter was thrown out by Mr Mwakwere.