Rouse will replace Republican Jen Kiggans to represent District 7 in the Virginia state Senate, a win for reproductive rights in the Old Dominion.

Democrat Aaron Rouse has prevailed in Tuesday’s special election and will represent District 7 in the Virginia state Senate. Rouse defeated Republican Kevin Adams. 

Rouse will replace Republican Jen Kiggans, who recently stepped down after winning her bid for the 2nd Congressional District seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. 

Rouse has served as a Virginia Beach City Council member since 2018. He’s previously said that he believes his strong ties to the area as well as his experience on the city council are what made him the right candidate for District 7. 

He’s also a former NFL player. Rouse was drafted by the Green Bay Packers in 2007, before going on to play for the New York Giants and the Arizona Cardinals. 

Rouse’s win is not only a win for Democrats, but it’s also a victory for reproductive rights. Although Democrats have a narrow 21-19 majority in the state Senate, one of those Democrats is Joe Morrissey, the only anti-abortion Democratic elected official in the state. Rouse told both The Virginian-Pilot and Daily Press last month that if elected, protecting abortion access would be one of his top priorities. 

“The governor has reiterated that he is willing to sign any abortion ban that comes across his desk,” he said in December. “I will fight to make sure that women have the opportunity to make their own decisions; that’s something that shouldn’t be legislated.”

Leaders on both sides of the abortion debate said before the election that whoever wins the state Senate seat for District 7 will play a large role in shaping the commonwealth’s laws on the subject this year; Gov. Glenn Youngkin has proposed a ban on  the procedure after 15 weeks of pregnancy that will be considered in this year’s General Assembly session. 

Rouse has also said that education is one of his top concerns. He believes that Virginia teachers should be “the highest paid in the nation,” and plans to advocate for more funding to be pumped into the education system. He also plans to expand access to preschool

Rouse wants to create an economy that “works for everyone” and push for workers to receive “fair, liveable wages.”

Rouse’s other priorities include health care and public safety. Although redrawn state legislative maps will be in effect for this fall’s state House and Senate elections, this election took place under previous district lines and just one day before the General Assembly convenes for its legislative session.