Kathleen Sebelius (D), a former Kansas House member who is serving her second term as state insurance commissioner, won a hard-fought election to replace term-limited governor Bill Graves (R).
The rare statewide Democratic victory in a state that President George W. Bush dominated in 2000 came after a campaign in which the state's looming fiscal crisis emerged as a critical issue.
Sebelius's strongest opponent, conservative Republican State Treasurer Tim Shallenburger, refused to consider any tax increases to deal with Kansas's fiscal problems. Sebelius said she would order a full audit of state spending and consider raising taxes as a last resort. She wound up garnering 53 percent of the vote.
Meanwhile, Sen. Pat Roberts (R), one of the most respected figures in Kansas politics and an early advocate of homeland security measures, won a landslide victory for his second term over two minor-party opponents.
All four of the state's incumbent House members won reelection, including Rep. Dennis Moore (D). Moore managed to fight off a determined challenge by former Navy pilot and marketing consultant Adam Taff (R), whose upstart campaign attracted strong support from national Republican Party officials.
Popular Republican Gov. Mike Johanns coasted to a second term over Democratic businessman Stormy Dean. Also, Sen. Chuck Hagel (R) easily won a second term, overwhelming construction worker Charlie Matulka (D) with 83 percent of the vote.
In the House, incumbent Republicans Tom Osborne and Doug Bereuter faced no Democratic opposition and coasted to easy victories, while incumbent Lee Terry (R) rolled to a wide victory over Democrat Jim Simon.
There was no Senate or governor's race, but voters approved a ballot initiative allowing the state to take part in a multi-state lottery.
Voters soundly rejected a proposal that would have provided as much as $5,000 in income tax credits over five years to people age 21 to 29 who live and work in North Dakota, the slowest-growing state in the nation. State residents in the age group also would have qualified for $5,000 in student loan repayments, spread over five years, if they graduated from an accredited two- or four-year school.
In the state's at-large House race, Democrat Earl Pomeroy was elected to a sixth term, as he held off a strong challenge by Republican challenger Rick Clayburgh.
Incumbent Tim Johnson (D) eked out a victory over Republican challenger Rep. John Thune in one of the nation's most hotly contested Senate races. Johnson had a 528-vote lead over Thune, who has the option of calling for a recount because of the narrow margin.
The race became a sort of proxy battle between President Bush and the state's senior senator, Majority Leader Thomas A. Daschle. Bush personally convinced Thune to abandon plans to run for governor and challenge Johnson as part of the GOP strategy to take back the Senate. The president visited the state four times to campaign with Thune, while Daschle was a constant presence on the stump with Johnson.
The candidates bombarded the state with commercials that aired for months before the election. Beyond the national significance of the race, drought aid had emerged as an issue, with Bush putting Thune at a disadvantage by refusing to come to the state's assistance.
In the race for governor, former state senate majority leader Mike Rounds (R) rolled to victory over Democrat Jim Abbott, on leave as president of the University of South Dakota. Rounds, who captured 57 percent of the vote, will replace Gov. William J. Janklow (R), who is term-limited after finishing his second eight-year stint in the statehouse.
Janklow is leaving the governor's office for Washington. He won election to Thune's congressional seat by defeating Democrat Stephanie Herseth, the 31-year-old granddaughter of a former governor, with 53 percent of the vote.