American Idol’s Clay Aiken announces bid for Congress

Clay Aiken Congress

Clay Aiken, American Idol‘s most famous runner-up, is campaigning for one of North Carolina’s congressional seats.

“I’m running for Congress for the same reason I chose to become a special education teacher years ago — to help people in need and to give them a voice,” Clay said on his website.

If he makes it past Democratic primaries, Clay will face Renee Ellmers, the incumbent Republican in North Carolina’s second congressional district. In a statement on Wednesday, Congresswoman Ellmers’ representative called Clay, who has been openly gay since 2008, “a performer whose political views more closely resemble those of San Francisco than Sanford.”

In his own campaign announcement video, Clay indirectly spoke about American Idol and his years in the entertainment industry.

“For most Americans there are no golden tickets, at least not like the kind you see on T.V.,” Clay said. He also opened up about his childhood with a single mother, who fled from her physically abusive husband when Clay was just eight months old.

Raleigh’s News Observer reports reactions to Clay’s announcement are mixed within the community, which traditionally votes Republican.

“I have no doubt Clay Aiken will have all the money he needs to run an effective campaign. And his ‘I’m not a politician’ message is the right one for this political environment,” said Nathan Babcock, a representative for the non-partisan N.C. Chamber. “But even the strongest Democratic candidate faces a steep uphill climb in the 2nd Congressional District.”

Rumors about Clay’s bid for office began last month. After announcing his official campaign yesterday, Democratic candidate Houston Barnes agreed to step aside and publicly supported Clay. Still, Clay will face former state Commerce Secretary Keith Crisco in the Democratic primaries in May. If he wins, he will oppose Congresswoman Ellmers in November.

And, in this competition, coming in second doesn’t do any good!

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