Katie LaPotin, Red Alert Politics, February 5, 2014
It’s official! Clay Aiken, whose claim to fame came during the second season of “American Idol,” has set his sights toward a new type of competition: Winning a seat in the United States House of Representatives.
The performer officially launched his bid for Congress Wednesday, releasing a five-minute web video on his campaign website talking about his life story and attacking his opponent, two-term Republican Rep. Renee Ellmers, on her voting record. Aiken filmed the video in the living room of a family friend where he and his mother lived for months after they left Aiken’s violent father before growing up in a lower-class, single parent household.
“So much of who I am was shaped from those early years, and that’s why I decided to run for Congress,” he says. “Well, it starts with a life that I remember all too well: mom working nights at Sears, clothes from the thrift store, Christmases where I might only get one small present but that would make it a present I would cherish.”
He goes on to talk about his life beyond the “golden ticket” of “Idol,” including his time as a special education teacher for students with autism, working with UNICEF in the war zones of Afghanistan and Somalia, and his appointment by former President George W. Bush to a panel on intellectual disabilities.
“I’m a Democrat,” he says in the video. “But it was when I was appointed by President Bush to serve on a special presidential commission to address the educational challenges of children with special needs that was when I first realized that our problems won’t be solved by only one party or the other, but instead it’s going to require all of us.”
The singer then went on to slam Ellmers for her votes on military budgets and the government shutdown in October, citing her voting record as the primary reason he decided to run.
“The district where I’m running is represented by a congresswoman who I believe went to Washington with good intentions,” Aiken says. “But even though she knew that voting for massive cuts to the military was bad for our country and for our district, she voted for them anyway, 10 times, after her party leaders told her to. And when her party leaders told her to vote for the government shutdown, she did, 21 times, even though she said herself it would be a disaster for the economy, and then she complained that she needed her paycheck.”
“This is what’s wrong with Washington,” he continues. “To do it when you know it’s wrong is even worse, and to do it because your national party told you to, well that’s what in the end convinced me that if I didn’t try to do something about it, then I couldn’t complain that no one else did. I’m not a politician. I don’t ever want to be one, but I do want to help bring back at least to my corner of North Carolina the idea that someone can go to Washington to represent all the people, whether they voted for you or not.”
Earlier in the week, the Congresswoman took some pot shots at Aiken, claiming that he was planning on challenging her in November “because he couldn’t Win ‘American Idol’.”
“Apparently his performing career is not going so well, and he’s very bored,” Ellmers told WMAL-AM radio hosts Brian Wilson and Larry O’Connor. “As we know, he didn’t really fare all that well. He was runner-up.”
Two other Democrats are currently running in the May 6th primary. A third Democrat plans to drop out and endorse Aiken, according to The Charlotte Observer reports. North Carolina’s 2nd Congressional District, located just south of Chapel Hill in the middle of the state, has a Cook partisan voter index rating of R+11, making it an uphill battle for whomever emerges from the Democratic primary. Romney won the district in 2012 by 15 points.
Watch Aiken’s announcement video below.