Clay Aiken announces campaign for Congress

February 5, 2014
In a video posted to his campaign Web site, former "American Idol" star Clay Aiken (D) announces his candidacy for the seat held by Rep. Renee Ellmers (R-N.C.). (Video courtesy of Clay Aiken for North Carolina)

Former "American Idol" star and singer Clay Aiken (D) announced his candidacy for Congress on Tuesday.

In a video posted to his new campaign Web site, Aiken says he will challenge Rep. Renee Ellmers (R-N.C.).

Aiken filmed the video in his childhood home, recalling an abusive father and his mother's hard work to raise him.

"If you only know the part of my story that begins with a golden ticket -- something that still seems unbelievable to me, even to this today -- you might wonder what would qualify me to run," says Aiken, who finished second on "American Idol" in 2003. "Well it starts with a life I remember all too well."

Aiken is considered a long shot in a strongly conservative district. Ellmers's district went for Mitt Romney by 15 points in 2012.

In the video, Aiken says he is a Democrat but notes that he was appointed by Republican president George W. Bush to an effort focused on special education -- an experience he cites as having gotten him interested in politics.

Aiken wouldn't be the first celebrity elected to Congress in North Carolina. Former NFL quarterback Heath Shuler held a seat in the western part of the state for three terms until last year.

Aaron Blake covers national politics and writes regularly for The Fix.
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