American Idol finalist Aiken takes aim at Congress again

FILE - Clay Aiken performs at

FILE – Clay Aiken performs in the “American Idol” farewell season finale in Los Angeles on April 7, 2016. The former “American Idol” finalist announced Monday that he is running again to Congress in North Carolina, this time seeking to succeed retired US Representative David Price. In 2014, Aiken won the Democratic nomination for a largely rural Congressional Central District in 2014, edging out former Secretary of State for Commerce Keith Crisco. But he lost in the general election to Renee Ellmers, then outgoing Republican, receiving 41% of the vote. (Photo by Matt Sayles / Invision / AP, File)

Matt Sayles / Invision / AP

Former “American Idol” finalist Clay Aiken announced Monday that he is running for Congress again in North Carolina, this time seeking to succeed retired US Representative David Price.

In a video announcing his candidacy in the 6th arrondissement, Aiken said he was joining the already crowded field of the Democratic primary, which was delayed from March to mid-May due to a dispute.

Aiken, 43, has had a career in music, theater, and reality TV shows – in addition to political and social activism – since placing second behind Ruben Studdard in the 2003 TV song contest.

” Hey guys. It’s been a long time. Now I know I look a little different these days, but we’ve met before, ”he says in the video.

Aiken won the Democratic nomination for a largely rural Congressional Central District in 2014, edging out former Secretary of State for Commerce Keith Crisco. But he lost in the general election to Renee Ellmers, then an incumbent Republican, winning 41% of the vote.

While that district was comfortably Republican, the proposed 6th district in which Aiken runs is overwhelmingly Democratic. It includes all of Orange and Durham counties – home to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Duke University, and the very wealthy West Wake County.

The high-tech Research Triangle Park is located in the 6th arrondissement and where Price has served almost continuously since 1987.

Aiken, who grew up in North Carolina and now lives in the Raleigh area, said he would work to promote inclusion, provide free, high-quality health care and fight climate change.

“As a strong and proud Democrat, I intend to use my voice to achieve real results for North Carolina families, just like David Price has done for decades,” Aiken said in A press release.

The winner of the 6th arrondissement primary would almost certainly win the general election. The state’s congressional map is being challenged in the courts as an illegal gerrymander, meaning the lines could be changed and candidates could reconsider which district they could run in. But any district in the Triangle region should favor a Democrat.

The announced 6th District Democratic primary candidates include Sens state. Valerie Foushee of Orange County and Wiley Nickel of Wake County; County Durham Commissioner Nida Allam; and virologist Richard Watkins.

Aiken, who would be the first openly LGBTQ person elected to the Southern Congress if he won in November, said he would provide a counterweight in state politics to die-hard Republicans such as Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson and US Representative Madison Cawthorn. Many Democrats have called on Robinson to resign over comments he made about sex education in schools that critics say disparaged LGBTQ people.

“As Democrats we have to improve ourselves at speaking and using our voices because these people aren’t going to calm down anytime soon,” Aiken says in the video.

Aiken said it was Price who helped him get interested in politics as a child. He told the Raleigh News & Observer that when his eighth-grade college class studied the 1992 election, Aiken asked his professor if he could invite a politician to speak and reached out to Price, who agreed. .

Aiken’s celebrity status isn’t as strong as it was eight years ago, and he still hasn’t held elected office before, Meredith College political science professor David McLennan said in a statement. interview Monday. But Aiken turned out to be a credible candidate in 2014 and could benefit in the primary from efforts to bond with Price, he said.

The first two voters would pass to the second round if the leading candidate does not obtain more than 30% of the votes.

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