Democrats have flipped a crucial state Senate seat in Virginia, ensuring greater protection of abortion rights in the state.
Democrat Aaron Rouse defeated Republican Kevin Adams in the special election race for Virginia’s 7th Senate district, flipping the seat formerly held by Republican Jen Kiggans. The win extends the Democrats’ advantage in the Senate to 22–18, almost certainly halting some of Republican Governor Glenn Youngkin’s most radical agenda items, including a proposed 15-week abortion ban.
The Virginia Public Access Project has declared Rouse the winner, with the Democrat leading Adams by fewer than 400 votes as of Wednesday morning (and absentee ballots still being counted). Adams conceded on Wednesday morning.
The election was prompted by Kiggans’s rise to the U.S. House of Representatives, after she defeated Elaine Luria for Virginia’s 2nd district seat in November. Rouse promised to safeguard abortion rights, while his Republican opponent supported a 15-week abortion ban.
Rouse’s win is yet another domino falling on the red-wave-that-never-was for Republicans—one that in no small part was hamstrung by voters motivated by abortion rights. Rouse, a former Virginia Beach councilman and NFL player, had campaigned significantly on the issue.
“One, two, three. One, we are going to protect a woman’s right to choose health care, we are going to build an economy that works for everyone, and we are going to support our public education system, making sure our teachers and staff have a salary they can be proud of,” Rouse said on Tuesday.
The election results will still need to be officially certified, which may take weeks. But if the results hold, the right to abortion in Virginia will have a more resilient safeguard against attacks from Republicans like Youngkin.