RALEIGH, N.C. — North Carolina native and entertainer Clay Aiken is set to officially announce his candidacy for Congress today. Aiken will face two challengers in a Democratic primary for North Carolina’s Second Congressional District. If he wins, he’ll face Republican incumbent Renee Ellmers, whose staff has already thrown out anti-gay rhetoric and insinuations.
Aiken, 35, says in a video posted by the Raleigh News & Observer that Washington “is dysfunctional.” Too many people, he says, go to Washington where they let the city and politics change them.
“She ended up in D.C. and was changed by it,” Aiken says of Ellmers. “I went to Hollywood and I didn’t let it change me and I’ll go to Washington and I won’t let it change me. Too many people go to D.C. and let it change them and forget that they are voting for, working for people back in North Carolina. That’s not something that I will do.”
Aiken came out as gay in 2008. He has a partner and a young son. He says the issue won’t be a concern.
“People care about jobs, they care about the economy, they care about being able to pay for college,” Aiken told The News & Observer. “That (his sexuality) is an issue that doesn’t affect many people in this district or this state.”
But, Ellmers’ campaign staff are already on the attack. In a statement, the campaign linked Aiken to “San Francisco” and said Ellmers, not Aiken, would be “fighting for families.”
“It speaks volumes to the state of the N.C. Democratic Party that the primary is shaping up to be a choice between the failed Perdue Administration’s Keith Crisco, a lawyer who doesn’t even live in the district, an activist who’s (sic) own party rejected her in the last democrat primary – and Aiken, a performer whose political views more closely resemble those of San Francisco than Sanford,” Ellmers spokeswoman Jessica Wood wrote in an email. “Renee best represents the values of the voters in the 2nd District and remains focused on fighting for their families.”
Aiken expects to draw the most financial support from individuals, though the Raleigh newspaper reports he may use some of his own money.
In order to challenge Ellmers, Aiken will have to make it past the Democratic primary. One primary challenger, Houston Barnes, a Durham attorney, says he’ll withdraw from the race and endorse Aiken. Other challengers include former state Commerce Secretary Keith Crisco of Asheboro and Toni Morris, a licensed professional counselor living in Fayetteville.