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NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — Kenyans vote Tuesday to choose a successor to President Uhuru Kenyatta. The race is close and could go to a runoff for the first time.

One top candidate is Raila Odinga, an opposition leader in his fifth run for the presidency who is being supported by former rival Kenyatta. The other is William Ruto, Kenyatta’s deputy who fell out with the president earlier in their decade in power.

Both tend to focus far more on domestic issues, raising the question of how either will follow up on Kenyatta’s diplomatic efforts for calm in neighboring Ethiopia or in the tensions between Rwanda and Congo.


Kenya is East Africa’s economic hub and home to about 56 million people. The country has a recent history of turbulent elections. Even then, it stands out for its relative stability in a region where some elections are deeply challenged and longtime leaders such as Rwandan President Paul Kagame and Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni have been declared the winner with almost 99% of votes, or been widely accused of physically cracking down on contenders.

Kenya has no transparency in campaign donations or spending. Some candidates for Parliament and other posts are estimated to be spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to gain access to power and its benefits, both legal and illegal.


The 55-year-old Ruto promotes himself to the young and poor as a “hustler” who rose from humble beginnings as a chicken seller in contrast to the elite backgrounds of Kenyatta and Odinga. He seeks greater agricultural productivity and financial inclusion. Agriculture is a main driver of Kenya’s economy and about 70% of the rural workforce is in farming.

The 77-year-old Odinga, famous for being jailed while fighting for multi-party democracy decades ago, has promised cash handouts to Kenya’s poorest and more accessible health care for all.


Odinga and Ruto have long circled among contenders for the presidency, and there is a measure of apathy among Kenyans, especially younger ones in a country where the median age is about 20. The electoral commission signed up less than half of the new voters it had hoped for, just 2.5 million.

Key issues in every election include widespread corruption and the economy. Kenyans have been hurt by rising prices for food and fuel in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and that comes after the financial pain of the COVID-19 pandemic. More than a third of the country’s youth are unemployed.


Official results will be announced within a week of the vote. To win outright, a candidate needs more than half of all votes and at least 25% of the votes in more than half of Kenya’s 47 counties. No outright winner means a runoff election within 30 days.

The previous presidential election in 2017 made history when a top court overturned the results and ordered a new vote, a first in Africa. If the courts again call for a new vote, such an election would take place within 60 days of the ruling. Candidates or others have a week after the results are declared to file a petition to the court, which has two weeks to rule on it.

Copyright © 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, written or redistributed.

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Sen. Ron Johnson faces Democratic challenger Mandela Barnes in Wisconsin general election

Wisconsin Lieutenant Governor Mandela Barnes who is running to become the Democratic nominee for the U.S. senate greets guests during a campaign event at The Wicked Hop on August 07, 2022 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.Scott Olson | Getty Images

Republican Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin will defend his seat against Democratic Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes in a swing-state face off that could become one of the most competitive races of the midterms.

Johnson breezed through the state's Republican primary election Tuesday night, NBC News projected. Barnes was expected to have a tougher primary battle up until his top Democratic opponents dropped out late last month, clearing his path to the nomination, NBC projected.

Democrats have zeroed in on Johnson's seat as they fight to hang onto their razor-thin Senate majority. The two-term incumbent, backed by former President Donald Trump, is the only Republican senator running for reelection in a state that President Joe Biden won in 2020. Multiple polls also show Johnson's approval ratings underwater.

Johnson, 67, has also been a magnet for criticism from Democrats who say he has spread harmful conspiracy theories about the coronavirus and the integrity of the 2020 election, among other controversial remarks.

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee has already spent money on primary-day attacks ads that accuse Johnson of working in Congress to benefit himself and wealthy donors at the expense of ordinary voters.

Barnes, 35, would become the youngest member of the Senate, as well as Wisconsin's first Black senator, if he wins in November. He has been endorsed by well-known political figures including Sens. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass.

Johnson's campaign has lashed out at Barnes as a "career political activist" who is too far left for the purple state of Wisconsin, which Trump carried in 2016 and only narrowly lost in 2020. 

Barnes had been a community activist after college, and served in the Wisconsin State Assembly before becoming lieutenant governor. And he doesn't shy away from progressive social issues: His TikTok account, for instance, features posts of him calling for the Senate to end the filibuster, codify Roe v. Wade into law and pass the Equality Act to enact protections for transgender people.

But Barnes' campaign has largely focused on economic issues, highlighting his middle-class upbringing in Milwaukee and contrasting it with Johnson's status as one of the richest members of the Senate.

More money is expected to flow into the race as the candidates barrel toward the November general election. Johnson's campaign had raised more than $17 million by July 20, compared with $7 million raised by Barnes – though Barnes' campaign said on Aug. 1 that it raised $1.1 million in just a week, after his Democratic rivals united behind him.

Meanwhile, super PACs for both sides of the race are already pouring millions of dollars into Wisconsin, Forbes reported.


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