In a message sent to supporters and posted to his Facebook page Saturday evening, Gov. Sean Parnell conceded the governor's race to independent challenger Bill Walker, who has maintained a close lead in the vote count since election night.

Parnell writes:

It has been an honor to serve as Governor of Alaska for more than five years. Sandy and I will always remain thankful and humble that we could work for you to create opportunities for every Alaskan.

After Friday's vote counting by the Division of Elections, it became clear that while a win for the Parnell-Sullivan ticket was numerically possible, it is highly improbable. Where Alaska's swearing-in date this year for the governor-elect is December 1st and where some ballots still must be counted, I deemed it in Alaskans' interest to begin coordinating transition activities now with the Walker-Mallott ticket in the event the vote count holds.

I met this morning with Bill Walker to pledge an orderly transition. In line with this pledge, I offered office space for transition activities to the Walker-Mallott ticket as well as resources to accomplish the transition. We had what I believe to be a very productive discussion about how to work together for the benefit of Alaskans in this time of change in administration.

It is my fervent hope that Alaska's trajectory for economic growth and individual safety and opportunity will be maintained. From bringing the Alaska LNG Project further than ever before; to creating Alaska Performance Scholarships for our young people; to being on track for natural gas to Fairbanks by 2016; to a Cook Inlet gas and economic resurgence; to reforming Alaska's oil tax system to bring more North Slope investment and job activity than we've seen in decades (and more state revenue at these lower oil prices); to resolving the Point Thomson dispute and gaining first production there by 2016; and to leading our state in fighting the epidemic of domestic violence, sexual abuse, and sex trafficking -- we have achieved a great deal for our state.

We respect the will of the voters, and offer Bill Walker, Byron Mallott and their families our sincere congratulations. Again, I want to thank our citizens for the honor of a lifetime.

Walker, who has been careful not to declare victory, has assembled a transition team that will meet next weekend in Anchorage to begin planning for a new administration.

Approximately 9,800 votes remain to be counted in Alaska's general election, work that will resume Monday. As of Friday evening, with about 270,000 total votes counted, Walker led Parnell by 4,634 votes, a margin of 1.7 percent.