Clay Aiken, the singer and actor who came to fame on “American Idol,” announced Monday that he running for Congress as a Democrat in North Carolina.
“Can you believe it’s been almost 20 years since I first got to share my voice with you?” tweeted Aiken, referring to his breakout status as the runner-up to Ruben Studdard in a heavily competitive season of “Idol” in 2003. “That’s a long time. A LOT has changed! We need powerful voices more than ever, so I’m running for Congress. And my voice is even stronger now! ;-“
It’s Aiken’s second turn at running for a seat in his home state; he previously ran for the U.S. House of Representatives in 2014. But political observers say that his chances are much better in this race. In 2014, he ran in a heavily conservative district filled with rural counties, and was considered a long shot at best to prevail in the Democratic primary.
This year, Aiken will be running in the 6th district, an area that encompasses the Durham area in which whoever wins the Democratic primary would be expected to win the general election handily. The primary takes place in May.
The position is currently held by Rep. David Price, a Democrat from Chapel Hill who has held the job since 1997 and served additional terms prior to that from 1987-95. He announced in October that he would be retiring in 2022.
“It’s hard to wrap your head around what we’re losing with Congressman Price’s retirement,” Aiken said in a statement to the News & Observer. “He’s delivered so much for the Triangle.”
Although Aiken is by far the most well-known candidate to enter the field, he will face several other locally prominent Democrats in the May primary, with the News & Observer citing state Sens. Valerie Foushee and Wiley Nickel and Durham County Commissioner Nida Allam as his likely competitors.
If Aiken wins the primary and then general election, he would make history as the first openly gay congressperson from the South in history.
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