“I saw this as the best place I could serve because I think Washington, in general, is dysfunctional,”said Aiken, as quoted in the New York Times. “I think it’s high time we put people in Congress who were not beholden to their party and not beholden to anything but the people who they live around and grew up around, in my case.”
The openly gay singer and Broadway star will put his career on hold to pursue public office in his home state of North Carolina.
But Aiken won’t be without Democratic competition in the primary. He will face off against Keith Crisco, former NC state commerce secretary and counselor Toni Morris.
Aiken, who was runner up in the 2003 season of American Idol, was an ambassador for UNICEF in 2004 and 2006. He co-founded National Inclusion Project in 2003 and served for two years as spokesperson for Presidential Committee for People with Intellectual Disabilities.
According to a report in USA Today, Aiken is running in the second district, which is a conservative central area of the state. Voter registrations show an even divide between Democrats (36 percent) and Republicans (36 percent), however, Mitt Romney captured 58 percent of the vote there in 2012.
In 2004, Aiken’s book published by Random House, “Learning to Sing: Hearing the Music in Your Life”, became a best seller as a memoir of his difficult younger years.
From the book cover:
“I believe God has a direction for me. He did not give me this life just so I could buy a big house and an SUV. My job is to give back and to be a decent human being no matter [what].”
The odds of Clay Aiken winning the primary and ultimately unseating Elmers is unknown at this time, but if the soft-spoken optimist were to make it to Capitol Hill, he would have to fight hard to avoid getting sucked into the dark vortex of partisanship that has dominated DC since the election of President Barack Obama .
Video of Aiken's announcement can be seen here.