Former Virginia Beach councilman Aaron Rouse wins special Virginia Senate election
Democrat Aaron Rouse, a former Virginia Beach councilman and NFL player, declared victory in a special state Senate election against Republican Kevin Adams, a Navy veteran.
He beat Adams by 348 votes — less than 1% of the vote.
"No rest for the weary – tomorrow, we head to Richmond to get to work for Virginia families," Rouse tweeted Tuesday night.
He'll take the seat vacated by Republican Jen Kiggans, who is now serving as a U.S. Representative.
Come November, all seats in the General Assembly are up for re-election, meaning if Rouse wants to keep his seat, he'll be running another campaign.
THANK YOU! With your support, and the support of voters from across Virginia Beach and Norfolk, we have won this Special Election. No rest for the weary – tomorrow, we head to Richmond to get to work for Virginia families. pic.twitter.com/F6J8uN9hQc— Aaron Rouse (@AaronRouseVaBch) January 11, 2023
The 7th District race won't determine which party controls the legislative body in Richmond. Democrats already hold a one-seat majority in the Senate. But the seat could be the swing vote on the issue of abortion.
It's one of the reason money poured into the campaigns: The 7th District race was the most expensive special election in Virginia Senate history. Each candidate raised more than $1 million leading up to the election.
Richmond Democrat Joe Morrissey recently said he’d keep an “open mind” about abortion ban proposals from Republicans in this year’s General Assembly session. If he breaks with his party, Democrats need Rouse's vote to prevail on any abortion legislation in the Senate.
Rouse emphasized the issue in his campaign in the Republican-leaning district.
"I think that is the most important priority for our Commonwealth and for our nation," Rouse told WHRO. "(It's an) opportunity to be a leader and say we're not going to roll back the hands of time when it comes to women's rights."
Adams said he supports Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s suggestion of a ban on abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy.
Rouse, whose football career led him to the NFL, regularly talks about the role educators played in his athletic career.
It's why he says public education is a topic he wants to focus on in the state Senate.
"I would not be where I am today or who I am today without our public education system and what that means is making sure that our teachers, educators and staff have a livable wage," he said.