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Rep. Clay Aiken? Run For Congress Possible For American Idol Runner-Up

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RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – Pop singer Clay Aiken, who first made a name for himself as a contestant on “American Idol,” is considering a run for Congress in North Carolina’s 2nd District, a state Democratic Party consultant said Friday.

The “American Idol” runner-up from 2003 has talked with him and other advisers and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee about whether to seek the seat now held by Republican Rep. Renee Ellmers, consultant Gary Pearce told The Associated Press.

“I was impressed with him,” said Pearce, who worked closely with former four-term Gov. Jim Hunt and with John Edwards’ 1998 U.S. Senate race. “He struck me as a very smart and serious person who had a sincere interest in representing his district.”

Pearce said he doesn’t know if he would be part of a campaign team if Aiken decides to run.

Aiken wouldn’t be alone in seeking the nomination. At least two Democrats – former state Commerce Secretary Keith Crisco and Durham attorney Houston Barnes – have said they plan to run.

Ellmers, the incumbent, who won the office in 2010 as a tea party candidate, also will have competition as some Republicans have said they don’t think she’s conservative enough. Radio talk show host Frank Roche has said he plans to seek the GOP nomination.

Pearce said he thought Aiken would attract young and new voters and that his lack of previous political involvement would be a plus, especially with voters who “are disgusted with Washington.”

Aiken, who has made seven albums and appeared on reality TV and Broadway since “American Idol,” has spoken out against North Carolina’s constitutional amendment banning gay marriage. In 2009 and 2010, he spoke out against the Wake County school board majority that supported ending a diversity policy.

Last year, a woman was charged with stalking him at his Chatham County home.

The 35-year-old Aiken is gay and has a son who was born through in-vitro fertilization. While that might be a negative in such a conservative district, Pearce said he believed most voters who wouldn’t support a gay candidate probably wouldn’t support a Democratic one either.

And voters are really concerned about one of two things, he said: “Why they work hard and can’t make ends meet or why they can’t find jobs.”

The filing deadline for the May 6 primary is Feb. 10.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press.

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