Update 1:15 a.m. EST Wednesday:
Democrat Mike Michaud has conceded the election to Gov. Paul LePage.
Republican Gov. Paul LePage claimed victory Tuesday in Maine's gubernatorial race against Democrat Mike Michaud, despite being largely unpopular durimg his first term. The race was neck-and-neck between LePage and Michaud after independent candidate Eliot Cutler opened the door for his supporters to endorse a candidate with a better chance of winning.
LePage was elected in 2010, marking the first time in 40 years Republicans simultaneously dominated the state Legislature and governor’s office. LePage watched his popularity tumble with missteps like saying, “About 47 percent of able-bodied people in the state of Maine don’t work.” He also told students, “If you want a good education, go to private schools. If you can’t afford it, tough luck. You can go to the public school.”
Despite criticism of his plain-spokenness, LePage insisted he could get the job done. “Mike Michaud would never embarrass you, but Mike Michaud cannot do what I can do. Eliot Cutler would not embarrass you. But they don’t have the skill sets to turn this state around,” LePage said.
PROJECTION: Incumbent governor Paul LePage (R) holds on to the governor's office in Maine pic.twitter.com/pymeh2UNjO
â€” CBS News Politics (@CBSPolitics) November 5, 2014
With 58 percent of the vote counted early Wednesday morning, LePage had 47.5 percent, Michaud 44.1 percent and Cutler 8.4 percent.
President Barack Obama campaigned for Michaud, a former mill worker, last week. “He ran for the state Legislature not because he wanted to be someone, but because he wanted to do something,” the president said to a crowd of 3,000 in Portland.
Michaud is one of the few current Congress members who never attended college and is a strong supporter of organized labor. He served as the U.S. representative for Maine’s 2nd Congressional District since 2003 and was previously president of the Maine Senate. He recently revealed being gay when his sexuality was about to be exposed.