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Democrats flip Virginia state Senate seat that can help them protect abortion rights

Aaron Rouse’s victory adds to the Democrats’ majority in the state Senate, where they plan to block anti-abortion legislation the Republican governor wants to enact.

By Emily Singer - January 11, 2023
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The Virginia State Capitol in Richmond, VA
The Virginia State Capitol in Richmond, VA

Democrats on Tuesday flipped a state Senate seat in Virginia, expanding on the party’s majority and providing another vote to block any anti-abortion legislation pushed by Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin.

Democrat Aaron Rouse won the special election in Virginia’s 7th state Senate District, narrowly defeating Republican opponent Kevin Adams by a margin of 50.4% to 49.5%, according to unofficial results reported by the Virginia Public Access Project. Rouse, a former NFL player and current member of the Virginia Beach City Council, declared victory Tuesday night, even though a small number of provisional ballots remain to be counted, according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

Rouse centered his campaign on protecting abortion rights in the state, vowing to block a 15-week abortion ban that Youngkin wants the General Assembly to pass.

“Radical Republicans are ready to ban abortion in Virginia. But if we win this seat, we won’t let them,” Rouse tweeted in December. “Send me to Richmond and I’ll be the last line of defense for women’s reproductive rights in Virginia.”

Adams described himself as “pro-life” and said he supported Youngkin’s abortion ban, saying on his campaign website, “We need to pass laws that respect the rights of the mom and baby, limit late-term abortion by passing Glenn Youngkin’s 15-week legislation, while providing reasonable exceptions to protect the life of the mother or in the instance of rape or incest.”

Adams’ campaign was bankrolled by anti-abortion Republicans in Virginia, including the anti-abortion group Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America, which spent $30,000 to boost Adams’ campaign.

“If we’re successful in Senate District 7 and a pro-life champion comes out as the senator there, we’ve got the opportunity to move pain-capable protections forward and get them through to Gov. Youngkin’s desk,” Stephen Billy, the organization’s vice president of state affairs, told Politico in December.

Democrats celebrated Rouse’s victory, saying that Youngkin’s push for abortion bans will run into a “brick wall” in the state Senate.

“Brick Wall 1. Youngkin 0,” Democratic state Senate President Pro Tempore L. Louise Lucas tweeted after Rouse’s win.

Virginia’s 7th state Senate District was left vacant by Republican Jen Kiggans, who was elected to Congress in November.

“This is the beginning of the blue wave for 2023,” the Virginia Senate Democratic Caucus said in a statement on Wednesday. “Virginians sent a clear message that Republican efforts to restrict reproductive rights are out of touch.”

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.


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