Clay Aiken, the North Carolina teacher and former contestant on singing competition “American Idol,” is making a second bid for a seat in Congress, according to an announcement released Monday.
Aiken, 43, hopes to become the first openly LGBTQ member of Congress elected from the south by filling the vacancy left by Rep. David Price, D-N.C., upon his retirement. The long-serving congressman announced in October that he would not seek reelection.
“As a loud and proud Democrat, I intend to use my voice to deliver real results for North Carolina families, just like David Price has done for decades,” Aiken said on his campaign website.
The former singer was the runner-up on the second season of hit reality competition show “American Idol” in 2003. Afterward, he launched a music and acting career — including a stint as a contestant on reality show “The Apprentice,” hosted by former President Donald Trump.
Aiken apologized for defending Trump against accusations of racism during his 2016 campaign after the violent 2017 Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, the Washington Post reported.
Aiken also served on behalf of UNICEF as a National Goodwill Ambassador before winning the Democratic primary in North Carolina’s 2nd district in 2014. He lost in the general election to Republican incumbent Renee L. Ellmers, according to The Post.
Aiken will shoot for the newly redrawn 6th district that includes Durham and parts of the Research Triangle.
In his announcement, the 10th generation North Carolinian condemned state representatives Rep. Madison Cawthorn, R-N.C. and Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson as “white nationalists” and “homophobes.”
“These folks are taking up all the oxygen in the room and I am sick of it,” Aiken said. “(Democrats) are the ones who are going to solve the country’s biggest problems. And we are the ones who are going to defend our most precious rights.”
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