ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Alaska Gov. Sean Parnell conceded the gubernatorial race Saturday, issuing a statement a day after independent challenger Bill Walker was declared the winner.
Parnell wrote on Facebook that he met with Walker Saturday morning and pledged an orderly transition.
"In line with this pledge, I offered office space for transition activities," he wrote. "We had what I believe to be a very productive discussion about how to work together."
Walker grabbed a slim lead on election night, but the race was too close to call while absentee and questioned voters were counted this week. Walker won Friday when it became evident that Parnell could not overcome Walker's lead.
Parnell has served as governor since July 2009, when Sarah Palin resigned. He won election in his own right in 2010. Palin had endorsed Walker.
"It has been an honor to serve as governor of Alaska for more than five years," Parnell wrote.
Walker, an attorney and former mayor of Valdez, is the first candidate unaffiliated with a party to be elected governor since statehood. He is scheduled to be sworn in on Dec. 1.
He stopped short of an outright claim of victory Friday, and on Saturday Walker welcomed Parnell's announcement.
"Gov. Parnell graciously conceded the race in order to facilitate a smooth and efficient transition process," Walker said in a statement.
Walker, who finished second to Parnell in the 2010 GOP gubernatorial primary, bypassed this year's primary by gathering signatures to support an outside run.
A major issue for Walker has been a natural gas pipeline project. Walker advocated for one for years but has taken issue with the process for pursuing one set up by Parnell's administration and approved by the Legislature, which involves the North Slope's three major oil producers and TransCanada Corp., which would own at least part of the state's interest in the pipeline and gas treatment plant. Walker vowed not to start over and to see a project through, but he also said Alaska needs a greater say than it currently has.
Parnell faced sharp criticism in the lead-up to the election over his administration's handling of allegations of sexual assault and other misconduct within the Alaska National Guard. Parnell said he and his staff followed up on every allegation they received.