RALEIGH, N.C. — Former American Idol and Celebrity Apprentice runner-up Clay Aiken joined another high-profile contest Wednesday — this one to get elected to Congress in his native North Carolina.
Aiken announced he would seek the Democratic nomination for the 2nd Congressional District seat currently held by Republican Rep. Renee Ellmers. The entertainer talked about his non-singing career as a special-education teacher, UNICEF representative and presidential commission member on education while explaining his reason for entering the race.
In each situation, "I saw a group of people, a population that was not being served," Aiken told the Associated Press in an interview.
In a video unveiling his bid, Aiken referred to his "golden ticket" — finishing as the runner-up to Ruben Studdard in TV's 2003 Idol competition, which has led to several albums and a role in a Broadway musical.
"For most Americans, there are no golden tickets — at least not like the kind you see on TV," he says to the camera. "More families are struggling today than at any time in our history, and here in North Carolina, we've suffered more than our share of pain."
Aiken, 35, is expected to face former state Commerce Secretary Keith Crisco of Asheboro and licensed professional counselor Toni Morris of Fayetteville in the Democratic primary in May.