Home 2023 Elections Why the Virginia SD7 Special Election on January 10, 2023 Matters a...

Why the Virginia SD7 Special Election on January 10, 2023 Matters a LOT – and Why Democrats REALLY Need to Win It!

For starters, this election could make the difference on women's reproductive freedom in Virginia.


Having just finished with the super-intense 2022 midterm elections, it’s hard to believe that in just a few weeks, there will be ANOTHER super-important election. This time, it’s a special election in Virginia Beach for the vacant SD7 State Senate seat (previously held by Republican Jen Kiggans, who defeated Rep. Elaine Luria and thus vacated the State Senate seat; still running under the pre-redistricting lines, by the way, until the June 2023 primary and November general election). For more on the district, see here, including the fact that in 2019, Kiggans only won it by an extremely narrow (50.4%-49.5%) margin over Democrat Cheryl Turpin. Also note that Sen. Tim Kaine won this district by 14 points (56%-42%) in 2018 and that Ralph Northam won it by 9 points (54%-45%) in 2017, with Glenn Youngkin narrowly (51.7%-47.4%) carrying it in 2021. Also, according to an estimate by Sam Shirazi, Rep. Elaine Luria (D) lost reelection but won SD7 by around 2 percentage points. So, bottom line, this district is VERY much a winnable, competitive, “purple” district that we CAN win and NEED to win in the upcoming special election!

Now, for what’s at stake, you can start by checking out this video for a report by WAVY TV10 on the candidates in this race, including:

  • Democrat Aaron Rouse “says he will fiercely defend a woman’s right to choose, voting rights and criminal justice reform.So much is at stake in this upcoming election. Any effort to roll back the rights and progress Virginians have made in these recent years, I will stand firmly with my colleagues against.”
  • Republican Kevin Adams, who says he supports Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s agenda.” In other words, Adams supports trashing our public schools, demonizing LGBTQ kids, erasing the history of African Americans, harming the environment, pushing to roll back the tremendous progress we’ve made on switching from fossil fuels to clean energy, restricting voting rights, and of course depriving women of their rights to make crucial decisions about their own bodies.

So the choice is crystal clear between these two candidates, as is the choice FOR Aaron Rouse.

Something else, however, that’s important to understand is the power balance in Virginia right now, and why this special election could have such a drastic impact on that balance. A few points to consider:

  • First off, keep in mind that prior to the 2022 midterm elections, Democrats held a VERY narrow, 21-19 majority in the Virginia State Senate, while Republicans controlled (and still control) the governorship and House of Delegates. Which means that the only thing stopping Glenn Youngkin’s far-right agenda from becoming a horrifying reality is that narrow Democrats majority in the State Senate, aka the “firewall.”
  • Following the 2022 midterm elections, with the unfortunate victory of State Sen. Jen Kiggans (R) in the VA02 U.S. House race, there’s now a vacancy in the State Senate, which makes the current partisan balance *TEMPORARILY* 21-18 in favor of Democrats. However, the special election for the 7th State Senate district seat will take place on January 10, 2023, which means that when the Virginia General Assembly kicks off its 2023 session on January 11, that seat will be filled, making the State Senate balance either 22D-18R or 21D-19R.
  • So, you ask, why is this SD7 special election so important if, at worst, the State Senate will end up – at worst, from a Democratic perspective – back to where it started, at 21D-19R? Several reasons: 1) it’s important in and of itself that we replace right winger Jen Kiggans with Democrat Aaron Rouse, not another right winger like Rouse’s Republican opponent; 2) the 21D-19R margin is waaaayyy too close for comfort, given that it leaves no margin for error – sickness, death, absence for whatever reason – and also gives Youngkin the opportunity to pick off a Democrat (Joe Morrissey on abortion, for instance) or two on any given issue; 3) if State Senator Jennifer McClellan runs for, and wins, the special election for Rep. Donald McEachin (D-VA04)’s U.S. House seat before the end of the 2023 General Assembly session, that would mean Democrats’ already narrow majority could dip as low as 20-19, which  would mean that if Democrats lose a single Senator on pretty much any vote, they’ll lose that vote, especially given that LG Winsome Sears (R) would break any ties…shuddderrrr.
  • Now, think about the issues you care about, as well as the literally HUNDREDS of pieces of progressive legislation signed into law by Gov. Ralph Northam in 2020-2021, and then think about the prospect of much if not all of that being rolled back by a right-wing-Republican “trifecta.” Horrifying, right? Yep. Which is why it’s so important that we all don’t treat the SD7 special election as some sort of afterthought, or something that doesn’t impact ALL OF US (not just people who live in Virginia Beach), and why we all should be focused on helping win it, even/especially because during the holiday season, people naturally are NOT be focused on politics. But here in Virginia, there’s never any rest for the weary, as the saying goes, so…yep, let’s make sure we don’t let Republicans catch us napping, partying, or simply not paying attention!



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