Associated Press: Walker Unseats Parnell

The Associated Press has called the gubernatorial race in favor of unaffiliated candidate Bill Walker. Walker unseats Republican Gov. Sean Parnell.

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While about 10,000 absentee ballots remain to be counted, the Associated Press concluded that Walker’s 4,600-vote lead was insurmountable. Walker was ahead of Parnell 48 percent to 46 percent when the Division of Elections last updated its vote count on Friday evening.

Meanwhile, the gap in the Senate race shrunk slightly. Democratic incumbent Mark Begich began the day 8,000 votes behind Republican challenger Dan Sullivan. Begich made up some ground mid-day when rural absentee votes were counted, but then lost it with the most recent update.

Neither Parnell nor Begich have conceded their races. Both candidates are outside the half-point margin required for a recount. The final outstanding ballots will be counted next week.

Walker, who was previously registered as a Republican, will be the first Alaska governor to hold the office without the official backing of any party. He will be only the second governor since Wally Hickel ran as an Alaska Independence Party Candidate to be elected from outside the two-party system. The Democratic Party did provide informal support to the Walker ticket when it allowed their candidate, Byron Mallott, to abandon his gubernatorial bid in September. Mallott joined Walker as his lieutenant governor running mate.

This story has been updated to include the Associated Press declaration.