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Former ‘American Idol’ star Clay Aiken announces run for Congress

  • MATT SAYLES/INVISION/AP / 2016
                                Clay Aiken performs at the “American Idol” farewell season finale at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles.

    MATT SAYLES/INVISION/AP / 2016

    Clay Aiken performs at the “American Idol” farewell season finale at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles.

Clay Aiken, the former “American Idol” contestant, said Monday that he was running for Congress in North Carolina, in his second attempt to represent the state where he grew up.

On his new website, Aiken, 43, referred to himself as a “loud and proud Democrat” and said he would be running in a newly drawn district that includes Durham and Chapel Hill. Rep. David E. Price, a Democrat who currently represents much of that area, announced his retirement in October.

“I intend to use my voice to deliver real results for North Carolina families, just like David Price has done for decades,” wrote Aiken, a native of Raleigh. “I’ll always stand up for my principles and fight for inclusion, income equality, free access to quality health care, and combating climate change.”

Aiken, who placed second behind Ruben Studdard in the second season of “American Idol” in 2003, previously ran for Congress in a Republican-leaning part of the state in 2014. He won the Democratic primary but was defeated in the general election by the Republican incumbent.

Last month, the North Carolina Supreme Court ordered that the state’s 2022 primary election, originally scheduled for March 8, be postponed until May 17, citing a “need for urgency” in giving critics of the state Legislature’s gerrymandered political maps additional time to pursue a legal battle to redraw them. New boundaries for state legislative districts and North Carolina’s 14 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives face three lawsuits filed by Democrats and voting-rights advocates in state court in Raleigh.

Aiken is joining a Democratic primary field that includes two state senators and a Durham County commissioner, The News & Observer reported.

Aiken said his first experience with politics came when he was in the eighth grade and asked Price to speak to his class. Price agreed.

“In Congress, I’ll use my voice to advocate for common-sense policies that encourage continued job growth and healthy communities,” Aiken wrote. “Many of these political battles divide us as people, threaten our democracy, and weaken America. North Carolinians are worried about affordable health care and rapid inflation.”

Aiken studied at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte and taught special education in Wake County. He is a co-founder of the National Inclusion Project, which advocates for disabled children, and he worked with UNICEF as a national goodwill ambassador, according to his website.


This article originally appeared in The New York Times.


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