WASHINGTON (The Hill) — Clay Aiken says he wants to change North Carolina as the former “American Idol” star launches a second bid for Congress. The performer—who was the runner-up on the second season of the reality TV singing competition in 2003—announced Monday that he’s entering the race as a Democrat for the open seat in North Carolina’s 6th Congressional District.
Rep. David Price (D-N.C.) announced his retirement last year from representing much of the area that’s part of the newly redrawn 6th District. “For decades, North Carolina was actually the progressive beacon in the South,” Aiken said in a video kicking off his campaign. “But then things changed, and the progressives lost power, and we started getting backwards a– policies, like the voter suppression bills and the bigoted bathroom bill.”
“Because today, it seems like the loudest voices in North Carolina politics are white nationalists like this guy,” Aiken, 43, said, before playing a clip of Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-N.C.).
Showing images of GOP Reps. Marjorie Taylor Green (Ga.) and Lauren Boebert (Colo.), Aiken told viewers, “These folks are taking up all the oxygen in the room and I’ve got to tell you, I am sick of it.”
“As Democrats we have got to get better about speaking up and using our voices because those folks ain’t quieting down anytime soon. That’s why I’m running for Congress here in this community that raised me and where I first discovered my voice.”
Aiken’s congressional bid comes almost eight years after he launched his first run for Congress in 2014 against then-Rep. Renee Ellmers (R-N.C.). He lost the race in the Tar Heel State’s then-Republican-leaning 2nd Congressional District.
If elected, Aiken said he would be the South’s first gay congressman. “If the loudest and most hateful voices think they’re going to speak for us,” Aiken said in his campaign launch ad, “just tell them I’m warming up the ‘ole vocal cords.”