Republican Kris Kobach and Democrat Laura Kelly rambled to the end Tuesday of a combative gubernatorial campaign that leveraged partisan rhetoric of President Donald Trump and bipartisan appeal of four former Kansas governors.

It pitched Kobach's endorsement from President Trump and Vice President Mike Pence against a wave of support for Kelly by former Govs. Mike Hayden and Bill Graves, as well as Democratic Govs. Kathleen Sebelius and John Carlin.

Kobach, elected Kansas secretary of state eight years ago and a frequent flyer on Fox television broadcasts, was unapologetic about his desire to move state government further to the right. Kelly, a mild-mannered Topeka state senator, warned voters that election of Kobach would rekindle dark years of financial crisis endured under Gov. Sam Brownback.

"We've seen over time that Kansans understand how critical this election is, and I'm sure that they're going to cast their ballot wisely," Kelly said while voting in Topeka. "We've gotten our message out loud and clear, and I think from the crowds that we've been attracting all over the state that it's resonated and the people of Kansas are ready for a change."

Kobach, who voted in Lecompton on Tuesday morning, said he was "cautiously optimistic" the Kansas surge in midterm voting would propel him to victory, but expressed apprehension about Kelly and her advocates outspending his side 2-to-1 as voting ended.

Polling portrayed the contest as a statistical tie between Kelly and Kobach, and Kobach said it could be a nail-biter that came down to a "few hundred votes."

"Republicans are getting out and voting, sensing that from a national level the Trump agenda is under fire and on the state level that our Republican agenda is under fire," Kobach said.

Kobach said Trump's focus on the fight over control of the U.S. Supreme Court and against illegal immigration were issues that translated into votes for him among Kansas conservatives. Kobach said the Kansas Supreme Court remained "very activist" on education funding and abortion cases.

He said the Trump endorsement likely pushed him over the top against Gov. Jeff Colyer by fewer than 350 votes in the August primary.

The five-person scuffle to replace Colyer, a one-year replacement after Brownback quit for a job in the Trump administration, likely ends with a whimper for independent candidate Greg Orman. He is the wealthy Fairway businessman who never gained the kind of traction he enjoyed four years ago in an outsider bid for U.S. Senate.

Orman found himself under immense pressure from moderate Republicans, independents and Democrats to suspend his gubernatorial campaign once it appeared he was out of the running. He cut off spending on commercials, but offered a defiant argument about why it was important to stay engaged.

"Above all: Vote for what you believe in," Orman said in an Election Day email blast to potential supporters. "When we vote out of courage for the leadership we believe in instead of succumbing to fear driven by partisan politics and its nationally-driven agendas, we will ensure that this election is about the people of Kansas."

Kelly said she wasn't worried about Orman losing the race but gaining enough swing votes to tip the outcome in Kobach's favor.

"I'm not particularly concerned about it. We factored that in before I got into the race, and realized that wasn't a factor whether Greg Orman was on the ballot or not," Kelly said.

Kobach said Orman's polling — 10 percent or less in recent weeks — might have underrepresented the businessman's nonpartisan support.

"You never know. Anything can happen on Election Day. It's possible he can have a late surge," Kobach said.

The other two candidates on the Kansas gubernatorial ballot are Libertarian Jeff Caldwell, of Leawood, and independent Rick Kloos, of Berryton.