Campaigns have intensified in Migori following the death of Senator Ben Okello.
The IEBC has yet to declare the date of a by-election, but three aspirants from the Kuria community have declared their interest.
They are former ODM county chairman John Magaiwa, journalist Matiko Bohoko and businessman Solomon Hodo. Hodo came third in the August 8 poll. Bohoko unsuccessfully sought the ODM ticket in 2013 and 2017.
Tyson Kemege, who ran for deputy governor in the last election, yesterday said they have organised meetings with elders to chart the way forward.
In 2013, Wilfred Machage, a Kuria, won the seat on the ODM ticket. He got the support of the Luos and his community. He lost the seat last year after he ditched the party.
The Kurias are a minority in the county. They have two constituencies — Kuria East and Kuria West — while the Luo community has seven. ODM has been the dominant party, but the Jubilee Party won the two Kuria constituency seats in the last two elections.
Kuria East is represented by Marwa Kitayama and Kuria West by Mathias Robi. They have 86,211 votes — Kuria West 51,057 and Kuria East at 35,154. The county has 388,633 eligible voters.
Kemege said they will keenly watch the moves made by ODM leader Raila Odinga and his party nominations.
During Okello’s burial last week, jostling for the ODM ticket was evident. His family urged the party to directly nominate their own, as it did in the Homa Bay Senate by-election in 2015.
The party endorsed Moses Kajwang’ — the brother of Otieno Kajwang’ who died in 2014. Moses won the seat and successfully defended it in last year’s election.
“Homa Bay has only Luos. In Migori, we [Kurias] have a voting bloc and three candidates. We will teach the Orange party lessons in this by-election. It’ll know the Kuria community also exists,” Kemege said.
Magaiwa and Hodo yesterday said they are keen to be on the ballot. Both will be banking on their community support, but Bohoko is also eyeing the Luo vote for a decisive victory.
Bohoko wants Raila to endorse his bid and give him a direct ticket because he is a “loyal supporter of the NASA chief”.
“I’ll move with Kuria professionals and elders to his home to push for this,” he said yesterday.
Hodo said he will use another party to run. “I got about 50,000 votes in the last election at third position. I chose the independent ticket after the bungled ODM nominations,” he said.
Magaiwa said elders have held several meetings to ensure only one of them is presented as the community’s candidate. They want to vote as a bloc, he said.
“We know ODM and Raila will hold sway over the Luo vote, but, as a community, we’ll ensure we vote as a bloc and upset the party candidate and have our own as senator,” Magaiwa said.