Special Election to Replace Sen. Kiggans Expected to Be Close

Governor Glenn Youngkin and Senate President Pro Tempore Louise Lucas (D-Portsmouth) have called a January 10 special election for Virginia’s 7th Senate district, filling a vacancy that will be left by State Senator Jen Kiggans (R-Virginia Beach) after she takes office as representative of Virginia’s 2nd Congressional District.

Local nominations for the race will be made this weekend, with a Republican canvass and a Democratic caucus scheduled for Saturday. Two Democrats have filed for the nomination: former NFL player Aaron Rouse, who is a Virginia Beach City Council member, and former Delegate Cheryl Turpin, who was the first Virginia Democrat to flip a Trump district in 2017, according to her city council campaign website.  So far, only one Republican has filed for the nomination, Navy veteran Kevin Adams, but candidates can file by 4 p.m. Thursday.

The January 10 special election is the day before the general assembly convenes, and the same day as a special election in northern Virginia to fill a vacancy left when Delegate Mark Keam (D-Fairfax) resigned to join the Biden administration.

The special election will be held in old lines for SD-7, and the winner will finish Kiggans’ term before potentially running for re-election under new district lines in November 2023. Republicans have held SD-7 since before the previous redistricting cycle. After Senator Frank Wagner retired, Kiggans defeated Turpin by 511 votes, 50.36 percent to 49.4 percent in 2019, although Turpin spent $2.4 million to Kiggans’ $1.5 million, according to The Virginia Public Access Project (VPAP).

Democrats hold a 21-19 majority in the Senate, making them vulnerable to a tie-breaking vote from Lieutenant Governor Winsome Earle-Sears if even one Democrat chooses to vote with Republicans or be absent from a vote. District dynamics might favor the effort to strengthen their majority: 51.91 percent of SD-7 voters supported Representative Elaine Luria (D-VA-02) in the recent congressional election even though she lost overall to Kiggans, according to a VPAP report.

Republican Party of Norfolk Immediate Past Chair Bob Brown was a member of his party’s 7th Senate district committee.

“[Kiggans] always attributed her wins to Norfolk. She got 500 votes out of here,” Brown said.

“We think those same people are coming out. That’s what we’re going to target, the same people that came out for Jen. One thing they did is they walked the district three times, and we’re going to try to do the same thing,” he said.

“It’s a pretty evenly split district, who gets their message out the best,” Brown said.

Brown said if no other Republicans file for the election, the canvass will be canceled and Adams will be the nominee. Adams already has backing from some state-level GOP operatives, including the Republican Party of Virginia’s State Central Committee Legal Counsel Chris Marston, and Brown said he expects campaign spending to hit $1 million.

“Kevin has been working for quite some time in the background. He was always – I don’t want to say heir apparent, but he’s been working hard,” Brown said.

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Eric Burk is a reporter at The Virginia Star and The Star News Network. Email tips to [email protected].
Background Photo “Virginia Capitol” by Skip Plitt – C’ville Photography. CC BY-SA 3.0.






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