Twenty two governors whose terms constitutionally end in 2022 have begun scheming for survival.
The second term county chiefs, used to the trappings of power, attention and huge budgets, are exploring options that will keep them in the limelight.
A handful is toying with going for the presidency or be running mates of big names. Some are planning to retire while many others hope to get plum state appointments.
Governors Wycliffe Oparanya (Kakamega), Hassan Joho (Mombasa), Amason Kingi (Kilifi), Alfred Mutua (Machakos) and Kivutha Kibwana (Makueni) have either publicly declared or been named as potential presidential candidates.
Oparanya told the Star he is ripe for the top job.
“My eyes are focused on the presidency. I am ripe to play national politics,” said the former minister who was recently elected chairman of the Council of Governors.
Oparanya wants ANC leader Musalia Mudavadi and Ford Kenya leader Moses Wetang’ula to support his State House bid.
“I can’t be helping people every day. It’s time they also helped me. As they have been unable to clinch the seat, let them leave this thing and pave the way for me,” he said.
Embu Governor Martin Wambora - the man with nine lives- told the Star his 15-year stint in politics is enough and he would gladly hang his political boots in what he says would be one of the most exciting times of his life. He first joined politics as MP for Runyenjes.
Joho, who has fashioned himself as the kingpin of Coast politics, says he will take a stab at the presidency in 2022.
“If I didn’t have national political ambitions, I’d have retired at 50. It’s only that I am running for President,” Joho said in November when asked if he had higher ambitions.
However, governors hailing from Deputy President William Ruto's Rift Valley backyard have remained tight-lipped about their ambitions.
They have been ardent supporters of Ruto who is facing a big political test after a section of Mt Kenya leaders openly stated the region will not back him.
Outspoken Uasin Gishu Governor Jackson Mandago is among those serving a second term.
Also quiet about their next move are governors from ODM chief Raila Odinga's Nyanza turf. Raila's political game plan remains unclear.
Governors with presidential ambitions are assembling political war chests as well as acquiring the requisite wherewithal in readiness for the bruising battle.
The Star has established that those not keen on contesting the presidency plan to align themselves with the political force likely to win the presidential contest.
Governors could be pushing for constitutional changes to restructure the national executive to introduce more seats at the helm in the hope that they would be the biggest beneficiaries in the new dispensation.
There is agitation to reintroduce the position of prime minister and two deputies to neutralise the influence of the presidency.
After the 2017 polls, some of the governors who were defeated were appointed to the cabinet as a soft landing.
Former Council of Governors chairman and ex-Meru governor Peter Munya is Trade and Industrialisation CS while Ukuru Yattani (Marsabit) is the CS for Labour.
Others are former West Pokot governor Simon Kachapin who is serving as Chief Administrative Secretary in the Ministry of Education. Hussein Dado who was Tana River governor is the Chief Administrative Secretary, Devolution.
Former Bungoma governor Kenneth Lusaka was elected Speaker of the Senate after Jubilee rode to power following his defeat at the gubernatorial polls while ex-Nakuru governor Kinuthia Mbugua is the State House Comptroller.