(USA TODAY) -- Clay Aiken formally declared his bid for Congress, setting aside the singing career he launched on TV's American Idol to run as a Democrat for a North Carolina seat now held by a Republican.
a video posted on You Tube, Aiken alluded to the "golden ticket" that
got punched when he was the 2003 runner up on the reality singing show.
He stressed his upbringing by a single mom and his days as a special
education teacher in explaining that he wants to serve in Congress for
people who don't have a voice.
"I'm not a politician. I don't ever
want to be one, but I do want to help bring back - at least to my
corner of North Carolina - the idea someone can go to Washington to
represent all the people, whether they voted for you or not," Aiken
He is aiming to take on Rep. Renee Ellmers, chairwoman of
the Republican Women's Policy Committee, who won a seat long held by a
Democrat in 2010. In a radio interview last week, Ellmers dismissed
Aiken's candidacy by noting, "As we know, he doesn't always fare that
well. He was runner up."
Aiken, 35, will face at least two
candidates in the Democratic primary including Keith Crisco, a former
state Commerce Secretary.
North Carolina's 2nd Congressional
District, based in the central part of the state and Fayetteville, is
considered a conservative area. Republican Mitt Romney won 58% of the
vote there in the 2012 presidential election.
voting registration is about evenly split with 36% Democrats, 36%
Republicans and 28% unaffiliated voters, according to a state Board of
Elections analysis cited by the News & Observer.
Since garnering fame on the second season of American Idol,
Aiken has been recording and appeared on Broadway. He spoke out about
North Carolina's amendment banning gay marriage and has been an advocate
on gay and lesbian issues. In 2006, President George W. Bush appointed
Aiken to a presidential commission focused on people with intellectual
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