Clay Aiken: Congress Bid In North Carolina
Former American Idol runner-up Clay Aiken has announced his intention to run for Congress in his native North Carolina.
Aiken will seek the Democratic nomination for the 2nd Congressional District seat currently held by Republican Renee Ellmers.
In a video unveiling his bid, Aiken referred to his "golden ticket" - finishing second in the 2003 Idol competition, which led to several albums and a role in a Broadway musical.
But he said he empathises with those struggling in the district where he lives, referring to his upbringing by a mother who fled domestic violence.
"For most Americans, there are no golden tickets - at least not like the kind you see on TV," he said.
"More families are struggling today than at any time in our history, and here in North Carolina, we've suffered more than our share of pain."
The 35-year-old said that he considers Washington dysfunctional and that he would focus on jobs, the economy and education.
He said the federal health care law, referred to as Obamacare, needs to be changed but should not be repealed.
He supports abortion rights and considers his political philosophy in the broad middle between political extremes.
"I'm not a politician. I don't ever want to be one," he said in the video.
"But I do want to help bring back - at least to my corner of North Carolina - the idea that someone can go to Washington to represent all the people, whether they voted for you or not."
Rep Ellmers, a two-term congresswoman, has been criticised by Tea Party forces who helped her get elected as not being conservative enough.
Aiken, who announced in 2008 that he is gay, said in an interview with the Associated Press that he does not believe his sexual orientation will play a role in whether or not people vote for him.
"There are dozens of issues that are important to the people living in the district, and that is not one of them," he said.
John Davis, a long-time political researcher in North Carolina, said Aiken stands a decent chance to win the primary in May, but the district boundaries drawn by Republicans will make it difficult for any Democrat to win in November.
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