Out former American Idol runner-up Clay Aiken has announced his second run for the U.S. House of Representatives.
Aiken, 43, came in second place in the second season of the singing competition show in 2003. He lost to Ruben Studdard.
Aiken, a Democrat, previously ran for Congress in 2014 when he tried to unseat then-incumbent U.S. Rep. Renee Ellmers, a Republican who represented North Carolina’s Second Congressional District. The singer and former special education teacher lost to Ellmers, 59 to 41 percent.
This time around, Aiken is running in a more liberal district. The newly redrawn Sixth District includes much of the territory that’s now represented by U.S. Rep. David E. Price, a Democrat, 81, who is not seeking reelection, The Washington Post reports.
“One of my first experiences in politics and government was asking Congressman Price to speak to my eighth-grade class — an invitation he graciously accepted,” Aiken, a native of Raleigh, N.C., said on his campaign website. “He is a legendary legislator who has delivered for the Triangle for over 30 years, and he leaves big shoes to fill. I’d be honored to take his place.”
Since his days on American Idol, Aiken has released several albums, performed on Broadway, hosted a Christmas special on TV, and been a UNICEF ambassador, according to the Post.
Aiken is expected to face a competitive primary.
“For decades, North Carolina was actually the progressive beacon in the South,” Aiken said in a video posted on YouTube. “But then things changed, and the progressives lost power, and we started getting backwards-ass 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 said before a clip featuring Rep. Madison Cawthorn, a Republican from North Carolina, is shown. The video goes on to show images of GOP Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia and Lauren Boebert of Colorado.
“These folks are taking up all the oxygen in the room, and I’ve got to tell you, I am sick of it,” Aiken said. “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.”