Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach maintained a minute lead — fewer than 200 votes — over Gov. Jeff Colyer Wednesday as the final primary election results in the Republican race for governor were counted.
Delays in Johnson County pushed the unofficial final result of Tuesday’s primary into Wednesday morning. Just before 8 a.m., results on the Kansas Secretary of State’s website showed a tie in the GOP election at 41 percent of the vote. Kobach held 126,257 votes over Colyer’s 126,066 votes — a difference of 191 votes. Provisional ballots remain uncounted.
Meanwhile in the Democratic primary, Sen. Laura Kelly clobbered opponents in her crowded field, taking home more than 50 percent of the vote.
Though Colyer carried Johnson County with 42 percent of the Republican vote, the final count wasn’t enough for a definitive answer.
A new computer system in the large county combined with lengthy lines delayed counting in Johnson County — home to 23 percent of Kansas voters.
Officials Tuesday night expected to have votes tabulated by 4 a.m. With that deadline approaching, the Johnson County election office website showed 185 precincts in the count left unreported at 3:35 a.m.
By 5:30 a.m., Brian Caskey, state director of elections, said on Twitter Johnson County’s final report would come at 8 a.m. Final numbers will remain unofficial until provisional ballots and some hand-counted paper ballots are included, he said.
The governor, in a statement Wednesday morning, said the race was too close to call. The margin was less than 1 percent with thousands of provisional votes left to count.
“We are committed to ensuring that every legal vote is counted accurately throughout the canvassing process,” Colyer said in the statement.
Kobach and Colyer engaged in an often heated fight for the Republican nomination.
Tuesday night as it became clear the race was too close to call, Kobach thanked his supporters, family, staff members and the owner of a gun-mounted Jeep he used in parades. Emotions may be raw, he said, but he encouraged them to support Colyer if he prevails.
“I want everybody to join together regardless and stand up for the principals we all believe in,” Kobach said, “and come together quickly and effectively so we can advance our Republican principals against the Democrat and independent in November.”
Kendall Marr, a spokesman for Colyer, said Tuesday night he remained optimistic.
“Everything is riding on Johnson County at this point,” Marr said.
Former state Sen. Jim Barnett had about 9 percent of the vote, and 8 percent cast ballots for Insurance Commissioner Ken Selzer. Tyler Ruzich, a Prairie Village high school student who joined other teens in the race for Kansas’s top leader, received 1,985 votes, about 1 percent.
In the Democratic primary, former Wichita Mayor Carl Brewer had 21 percent of the vote while former agriculture secretary Josh Svaty had 18 percent.
This breaking news story is developing and will be updated.