RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Democrats trimmed the Republican majority by at least one seat in Tuesday’s elections, but the GOP turned back most challenges to retain a solid majority in the House of Delegates.
In Rockbridge County, Republican Delegate Ben Cline ran unopposed, but still did not manage to garner all of the vote. Eight percent of voters in his district chose to write-in a candidate.
At least two Republican incumbents lost, and three more were locked in races that remained too close to call hours after the polls closed. In unofficial returns, Monty Mason of Williamsburg beat Del. Mike Watson and Michael Futrell of Woodbridge defeated Del. Mark Dudenhefer. No Democratic incumbents lost. A total of 55 seats in the 100-member House were contested.
The Democratic gains were partially offset by Republican Ben Chafin’s unopposed election to fill retiring Democrat Joe Johnson’s seat. Also, Republican Terry Austin won the seat vacated by retiring independent Lacey Putney, who participated in the GOP caucus.
Before a series of retirements, Republicans held a 67-32 edge over Democrats, and Tuesday’s results ensure that the GOP will remain firmly in control.
House Speaker William J. Howell said the outcome “demonstrates overwhelming support of Virginia voters for Republican leadership and is a clear vote against higher taxes, more spending and bigger government.”
The new House of Delegates will be working with a Democratic administration for the first time in four years. Terry McAuliffe defeated Republican Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli for governor.
“While we are not certain what his legislative priorities are, we hope that we can find common ground on the issues Virginians care about,” Howell said.
In other races, Democratic state Sen. Ralph Northam defeated Republican minister E.W. Jackson for lieutenant governor and the attorney general’s race between two state senators — Republican Mark Obenshain and Democrat Mark Herring — remained in doubt.