House Minority Leader Jim Ward dropped out of the Democratic campaign for governor Wednesday by filing for re-election to his legislative seat representing Wichita.

Ward, who has been a frequent critic of Republican Govs. Jeff Colyer and Sam Brownback, said he appreciated the thousands of Kansans that supported his effort to prevail in the August primary. He entered the race in August 2017.

"It was a privilege to meet and discuss the future of Kansas with so many exceptional people," he said. "I now have even more faith in the future of our great state."

He said he would focus on serving the southeast Wichita district in the House by advocating for quality health care, strong schools, fair wages, non-discriminatory policies and job growth.

Departure of Ward left a field of candidates ahead of the Aug. 7 primary that includes Topeka Sen. Laura Kelly, former Wichita Mayor Carl Brewer and former state agriculture secretary and legislator Josh Svaty.

Brewer said in a statement that Ward contributed during the campaign to vigorous debate about key issues and demonstrated a "tenacity in rooting out the problems our communities have faced for far too long."

Meanwhile, Kelly's campaign said she would receive an endorsement from a "special guest" on Thursday at the Capitol. The senator lauded Ward in a statement for working to hold the Brownback-Colyer administration accountable and fighting for Medicaid expansion.

Ward experienced fundraising hurdles after former Gov. Kathleen Sebelius endorsed Kelly and former Gov. John Carlin endorsed Svaty.