Clay Aiken is used to campaigning for votes as runner-up on Season 2 of “American Idol.” Now, the North Carolina singer may be campaigning for votes again – as a candidate for Congress.
Democratic sources told the Washington Blade that Aiken, a native of Raleigh, is weighing a bid to run for the U.S. House of Representatives in North Carolina’s 2nd District as a Democrat. The 35-year-old former “American Idol” contestant didn’t speak directly with the Blade, a gay newspaper. But one source said Aiken “made phone calls to gauge support," talked to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and has met with figures in Raleigh, N.C., about a potential bid.
The seat Aiken may be running for is occupied by U.S. Rep. Renee Ellmers, R-N.C. Aiken is certain to face opposition in a Democratic primary if he runs, with former North Carolina Commerce Secretary Keith Crisco expected to announce his candidacy on Monday, according to the Blade.
Ellmers will also face primary opposition, with radio talk show host Franch Roche announcing his campaign in December, according to the Charlotte Observer.
If Aiken decides to enter politics, it wouldn’t be that unusual. In an April 2012 interview with South Park Magazine, a publication affiliated with the Observer, the entertainer spoke about his passion for politics.
“When I was in eighth grade, we had to do a project where we interviewed somebody we admired and wrote a paper about them. Everybody did [theirs on] a parent or their youth pastor or someone close to them. I called [the late U.S. Senator, D-N.C.] Terry Sanford’s office in Raleigh and went and interviewed Terry Sanford,” he said at the time, adding that he didn’t foresee himself on the ballot for elected office.
But now, it appears that Aiken, who came out as gay in 2008 and has put out several albums after his career took off following “American Idol,” is poised to at least consider a run for Congress.
Among the people Aiken has reportedly been speaking to about is potential congressional bid are Raleigh-based political strategist Betsy Conti, who once worked for Al Gore and ex-North Carolina Gov. Bev Purdue, according to the Blade.
Aiken has until a Feb. 28 deadline to file paperwork in order to run for Congress.