VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — Former pro football player and Virginia Beach Councilman Aaron Rouse announced he will run for a Virginia Senate seat in the 7th District, which is currently held by U.S. Rep.-elect Jen Kiggans.
He made the announcement at Virginia Wesleyan University in Virginia Beach Monday morning with several other officials at his side, including Virginia Sen. Mamie Locke and U.S. Rep. Elaine Luria.
Rouse's announcement comes after Kiggans, who at the moment represents the 7th District, was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives. She is expected to resign before taking office on Jan. 3, 2023.
“I’m not going anywhere. I’m still here in the City of Virginia Beach, I am still looking forward to having greater impact at the state level ensuring that we provide more resources here to the local level,” Rouse said.
“So much is at stake in this upcoming election, from a woman’s fundamental right to choose, which I will fiercely defend, to the efforts that will set us back on voting rights, to addressing climate change, protecting the Chesapeake Bay and waterways, to criminal justice reform.”
Rouse previously announced he would run for the Virginia Senate's newly-drawn 22nd District in the 2023 elections, but Kiggans' vacating of her seat will trigger a special election in the 7th District, under the pre-redistricting lines, much sooner.
Virginia Senator Mamie Locke said this election is critical for Democrats, who control the state senate 21 to 19.
“This seat is very important to us as the Democratic caucus,” Locke said. “It was one of our target races. Before, we only lost by 600 votes the last time.”
Rouse will face off against Republican challenger and veteran Kevin Adams. Adams announced on Nov. 9 that he would be running to fill Kiggans’ soon-to-be vacant seat.
Rouse has served on the Virginia Beach City Council since 2018, the fifth Black council member to hold a seat in the city.
During his time in the role, he worked to set up Pharrell Williams' Something in the Water Festival. He also helped the council respond to both a mass shooting at the Virginia Beach Municipal Center in 2019 and a chaotic night of shootings at the Oceanfront in March of 2021.
Election workers have to finalize the votes before Kiggans can officially resign from the Virginia Senate. Election leaders will then order the election to fill the remainder of her term, which expires in January 2024.
"I would be remiss if I did not recognize the historical significance of this election," Rouse said in his announcement. "If elected as senator, I will be the first African-American to hold this position from the City of Virginia Beach. I seek to bring in a new leadership, a new generational leadership to state Senate."
Luria -- who lost her House seat to Kiggans on Nov. 8 -- said in a statement: "Aaron Rouse is precisely the leader we need in the Virginia Senate. While on City Council, Aaron ushered in a new generation of leadership and delivered results for the people of Virginia Beach. So much is on the ballot -- from women’s reproductive rights to voting rights -- and Aaron Rouse is the person I trust to lead Virginia into the future, not take us backwards.”
In addition to Luria and Locke, several other officials also announced their support of Rouse today, including Delegate Angelia Williams Graves, Norfolk city council member Andria McClellan and Virginia Beach councilmember Guy Tower.