RICHMOND (AP) -- Republicans turned back several challenges by Democrats as the GOP sought to retain its two-thirds majority in the House of Delegates.

In unofficial early returns Tuesday, several Republican incumbents defeated Democratic challengers and the GOP held on to six seats vacated by retiring Republicans. No Democratic incumbents had lost, either, as results were still pending for about half of the 55 contested seats in the 100-member House.

Before a series of retirements, Republicans held a 67-32 edge over Democrats. The lone independent organized with the GOP as part of their caucus.

Democratic state Sen. Ralph Northam defeated Republican minister E.W. Jackson in the lieutenant governor's race.

Results were still pending in the races for governor and attorney general.

In a statement Tuesday night, Speaker of the House of Delegates William J. Howell (R-Stafford) said, 'Tonight, Virginians have overwhelmingly re-elected a Republican majority in the Virginia House of Delegates, affirming their support for principled, conservative leadership and the promise of real results based on the ideas of fiscal responsibility, free enterprise and limited government. '

Speaker Howell said of McAuliffe's win in the governor's race, 'Throughout the now-concluded campaign, we have seen nothing but vague promises from candidate McAuliffe. I am eager to hear what substantive policy proposals a Governor McAuliffe will offer. While we are not certain what his legislative priorities are, we hope that we can find common ground on the issues Virginians care about.'

AP-WF-11-06-13 0255GMT

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