Clay Aiken made a name for himself on the second season of American Idol and has since become a bestselling singer and songwriter. Now, Aiken is stepping onto a new stage — running as a Democratic candidate for a congressional seat in North Carolina.
Aiken announced his challenge to Rep. Renee Elmers (R—N.C.) on Wednesday with a campaign video, where he explained his motivations for seeking office. Even though he is known to America as the Idol runner-up, Aiken presented his personal narrative, detailing how his mother fled his abusive father and he grew up largely on the charity of friends.
The singer doesn’t mention American Idol by name in the video, but references his “golden ticket” that is, perhaps the most well-known part of his story. “For most Americans there are no golden tickets, at least not like the kind you see on T.V.,” he says.
He mentions his experience as a special education teacher and touts his bi-partisan credentials, pointing out that even though he is a Democrat, he was appointed by President George W. Bush to a presidential commission on special education.
Before Aiken can face Ellmers, he will likely go up against two other Democrats in a primary for the state’s 2nd district, the Charlotte Observer reports. Ellmers won the seat in 2010 by defeating seven-term Democrat Bob Etheridge, and she was reelected in 2012 with 56 percent of the vote. Earlier this week, Ellmers mocked the possibility of an Aiken candidacy, saying “As we know he doesn’t always fare all that well. He was runner up.”
After finishing second to Ruben Studdard in the American Idol competition in 2003, Aiken went on to release five albums and is reportedly one of the top 10 bestselling Idol alums from the series’ first 12 seasons.