Reports: 'Idol' Singer Clay Aiken May Run for Congress in NC

Image: Reports: 'Idol' Singer Clay Aiken May Run for Congress in NC

Thursday, 23 Jan 2014 07:54 PM

By Cathy Burke

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"American Idol" runner-up Clay Aiken is building a campaign team to run for Congress as a Democrat in North Carolina, two reports said Thursday.

WRAL, citing unnamed sources, reported the Raleigh, N.C., native will make a formal announcement next month, and has already talked with political consultants and had a meeting with the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

The 35-year-old pop singer will take aim at incumbent GOP Rep. Renee Ellmers in the central North Carolina district that President Obama lost by 15 points in 2012, Roll Call reports. The DCCC declined to comment to Roll Call on whether its members met with Aiken.

Former state Commerce Secretary Keith Crisco and Durham lawyer Houston Barnes are also seeking the Democratic nod for the Republican-leaning 2nd District. Ellmers faces a Republican primary challenge in May from conservative radio talk show host Frank Roche, WRAL reports.

The openly gay Aiken, a runner-up on "American Idol" in 2003 who has released six albums since then and appeared on Broadway and on reality television, is brand-new to public office, and has some Democrats wondering if his freshman bid has any chance in a conservative district, Roll Call reported.

"It's a tough district. It's a conservative-leaning district," Democratic consultant Morgan Jackson told Roll Call. "It's a matter of, can he tap into the base of folks who have been buying his albums for years?"

Crisco, a former Asheboro city councilman who recently launched his campaign, may have more of the kind of profile that would give Democrats a shot at the House seat, and sources said someone like Aiken could hurt his chances, Roll Call noted.

"It's a tough seat to begin with, and [Aiken] would have problems getting someone to take him seriously," another North Carolina Democrat told Roll Call.

Aiken's most public foray into politics came in February 2012 when he spoke out against North Carolina's constitutional amendment outlawing same-sex marriage.

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