Former “American Idol” star Clay Aiken announced Monday that he is making a second bid for a congressional seat in North Carolina, this time seeking the Democratic nod in a more liberal district than eight years ago.
In 2014, Aiken prevailed in the Democratic primary in the state’s 2nd District but was soundly defeated in the general election by Republican incumbent Renee L. Ellmers.
This time, Aiken, 43, is running in the redrawn 6th District that includes much of the territory currently represented by long-serving Rep. David E. Price (D), 81, who announced in October that he would not seek reelection this year.
“One of my first experiences in politics and government was asking Congressman Price to speak to my eighth grade class — an invitation he graciously accepted,” Aiken shared on his website. “He is a legendary legislator who has delivered for the Triangle for over 30 years, and he leaves big shoes to fill. I’d be honored to take his place.”
The 6th District includes Durham and other parts of the Research Triangle in North Carolina. Aiken faces what is expected to a competitive primary. The Democrat who wins will be heavily favored in the general election.
Before his second-place finish on “American Idol” in 2003, Aiken was a special-education teacher. Since his participation in the singing competition, he has released several albums, appeared on Broadway, hosted a Christmas special on television and served as a UNICEF ambassador.
In 2012, Aiken was the runner-up on “The Celebrity Apprentice,” the reality show hosted by Donald Trump.
During the 2016 presidential race, Aiken defended Trump against accusations of racism, citing his time on the show with him. After the deadly Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville the following year, Aiken apologized for having defended Trump.
Aiken said that, as a member of Congress, he would advocate “inclusion, income equality, free access to quality health care and combating climate change.”
“I also believe we need more civility in our politics, and North Carolina deserves representatives in Washington who use their positions to make people’s lives better, not to advance polarizing positions that embarrass our state and stand in the way of real progress,” he said.