Clay Aiken: Not being a politician will be a 'strength' in run for Congress
by WNCN Staff
CARY, N.C. -
Former "America Idol" contestant Clay Aiken announced Wednesday that he will run as a Democratic candidate for Congress in the 2nd Congressional District.
Aiken made the announcement in a video which was released Wednesday morning.
In an interview with WNCN Wednesday, Aiken said he was frustrated with Republicans and Democrats in Washington who are getting nothing done, and said the culture there needs to change.
He said he wants to run a grass roots campaign that focuses on issues, not personalities.
Aiken also said the fact that he is not a politician is "part of my strength." He said his background as a special education teacher is significant and that education is important to him.
"I went to school to be a teacher," he said. "Education is incredibly important to me. Speaking up for people who don't get spoken up for is incredibly important to me."
In the video, Aiken said, "For most Americans, there are no golden tickets. At least not like the kind you see on TV. More families are struggling today than at any time in our history. And here in North Carolina, we've suffered more than our share of pain."
In the video, the singer talks about growing up in North Carolina and his work as a special education teacher for students with autism.
In 2006, President George W. Bush appointed Aiken to a two-year term on the Presidential Committee for People with Intellectual Disabilities.
"That was when I first realized that our problems won't be solved by only one party or the other," Aiken says in the video.
Aiken will run in the Democratic primary first and, if successful, would face Republican incumbent Renee Ellmers in the election.
The primary is May 6. Keith Criscoe, a former Commerce secretary in the Beverly Perdue administration, also has announced he will run for the Democratic nomination.
The district is one of that was substantially changed during the recent redistricting and is heavily Republican. The Cook Political Report calls it the 98th most Republican district in the country. The Hill, a political website, has ranked Ellmers as the No. 2 member of the House of Representatives most helped by redistricting.
Republican Mitt Romney dominated the presidential voting in the district in 2012, winning 57.3 percent to President Barack Obama's 41.7 percent, according to the Daily Kos website.
The district includes the western parts of Wake County, sweeps down through Dunn to Fayetteville and then includes Sanford, Southern Pines and as far west as Asheboro.
Ellmers made headlines recently with some comments about Aiken on a Washington radio station.
On Jan. 29, the Congresswoman spoke to WMAL in Washington. While talking with the host, Ellmers had harsh words for Aiken, saying, "Apparently his performing career is not going so well. He's very bored."
Ellmers' comment wasn't received well by one person in Cary Wednesday.
"I'm a registered Republican and really conservative, and her actions, thoughts and statements about him are just mindless," said Marc Edwards. "They're just not intellectual statements, and so she's going to get her butt kicked in the upcoming election."
Aiken earned his degree in special education at the University of North Carolina-Charlotte. He now lives near Cary.