(CNN) -- Independent candidate Eliot Cutler conceded the Maine governor's race to Republican Paul LePage on Wednesday after results showed the two separated by less than 8,500 votes.
Cutler, an attorney, said he spoke to LePage and told him "it appeared he would be the winner."
With 97 percent of precincts reporting, LePage, currently the mayor of Waterville, garnered 38 percent of the vote to Cutler's 37 percent. Democrat Libby Mitchell, president of the state Senate, was a distant third with 19 percent.
"I didn't want to stand in his way," Cutler said of LePage. "I didn't want to extend ... the uncertainty, because I didn't think it was good for him or the state. Obviously, if by some miracle official results change things, they do, but I don't expect it."
In an address to supporters Wednesday, LePage said his campaign "stayed on message despite many ups and downs, some of my making."
"I'm not a politician. I'm a businessman who served this community as mayor. I ran for governor because I believe the people of Maine need to be ahead of politics ... today the voters agreed: people before politics," he added.
The current governor, Democrat John Baldacci, cannot serve another term due to term-limit laws in the state.
Although Maine has trended Democratic in recent years, the governorship has steadily changed hands between Republicans, Democrats and independents for the past 50 years. In the century before that, Republicans dominated the office.