Alaska Independent gubernatorial candidate Bill Walker, right, laughs while awaiting election results, Nov. 4, 2014, in Anchorage, Alaska.
Photo by Michael Dinneen/AP

Independent candidate Bill Walker wins Alaska governor’s race

Independent candidate Bill Walker is the apparent winner of Alaska’s gubernatorial election, unseating incumbent Republican Gov. Sean Parnell, NBC News confirmed late Friday.

With 73% of votes counted, Walker, who is an attorney, took 48% of the vote with Parnell trailing slightly behind with 46%.

RELATED: GOP wins Alaska, unseating Sen. Mark Begich

Walker is the first unaffiliated candidate to be elected governor in Alaska, according to the Associated Press. Former Alaska Gov. Wally Hickel, who is Walker’s mentor, was elected as part of the Alaskan Independence Party before eventually returning to the GOP.

Alaska is a notoriously difficult state to poll; in 2012, it took two weeks to count the ballots because thousands vote absentee from rural areas where polling sites are not conveniently located. 

Alaska

Independent candidate Bill Walker wins Alaska governor's race