Maes led former Congressman Scott McInnis by 4,142 votes with 93 percent of precincts reporting. Maes told a crowd of about 100 people he was waiting until he had a 1 percent lead to declare victory.
"This campaign was not conceived in a smoke-filled room at the Brown Palace," Maes said as he proclaimed victory shortly before midnight. "This was not set up by the party kingmakers or big money donors."
Maes added that the Republican Party had lost its way.
The threshold for an automatic recount is one half of one percent, however, Maes led McInnis by slightly more than that margin.
Maes' campaign has been an unlikely underdog story. Early on, he had to count his campaign contributions in the hundreds of dollars, rather than thousands, and his own daughter acted as his press secretary for most of his campaign.
"I think we saw a strong rise prior to the state assembly," Maes said earlier in the night. "We felt very confident going into the state assembly. We felt confident we would win. We did win and now with the events that's happened between the state assembly and now, we believed that would boost us even more."
McInnis spoke briefly Tuesday night, but did not concede the race. Instead, he continued to tout his jobs platform.
The Republican race for governor has been plagued with controversy. McInnis was accused of plagiarizing articles for a foundation, and Maes has recently been in the news for comments he made about laying off thousands of state workers along with statements he has made about a bike share program in Denver.
Maes said last week that an international environmental group is promoting Denver's B-Cycle program and it is part of a "greater strategy to rein in American cities under a United Nations treaty."
The group to which Maes was referring, the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives (ICLEI), is an association with more than 1,200 communities as members, half of which are in the United States.
Maes also said he would force the federal government into a conversation about oil and gas by laying off as many as 4,000 state workers if elected.
A 9NEWS/Denver Post poll earlier this month showed Maes was favored to win, with 43 percent of people saying they would vote for him, and only 39 percent saying they would vote for McInnis.
The winner of the GOP race will take on the Democratic Party nominee for governor, Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper, and his pick of Lt. Gov., Colorado State University-Pueblo President Joe Garcia.
The American Constitution Party candidate for governor will be Tom Tancredo, who entered the race when Maes and McInnis declined to step down.
Also earning a spot on the ballot for governor of Colorado was the winner of the Libertarian Party nomination, Jaimes Brown, who defeated Dan Sallis in Tuesday's primary.
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