Words: Alastair James; pictures: Wiki and Clay Aiken for Congress
American Idol star Clay Aiken has announced that he is running for a seat in the United States Congress; the second time that he has done so.
The 43-year-old from North Carolina previously ran as Democrat in North Carolina's second congressional district back in 2014. However, he lost the race to his Republican rival, Renee Ellmers. He told TIME magazine at the time that he was open to running again saying, "I think it’ll happen."
On Monday (10 January), Aiken announced that he is running for the state's sixth district but it looks like he'll be going up against at least 10 other candidates in the race to get the Democratic nomination.
"As Democrats, we have got to get better about speaking up"
In a short video to launch his campaign Clay reflects on how things have changed in the nearly 20 years since he first appeared on American Idol. But he says his love for his home state has never changed and that it's where he found his voice, which "could be used for more than singing."
Describing legislation such as bathroom bills, which often target trans people, as "bigoted" Clay says the loudest voices in North Carolina include white nationalists showing a clip of Republican North Carolina congresman Madison Cawthorn or homophobes, showing a clip of a preacher questioning homosexuality.
"These folks are taking up all the oxygen in the room and I could tell you, I'm sick of it! As Democrats, we have got to get better about speaking up and using our voices," he says adding that the hateful voices aren't going away anytime soon.
Placing the Democrats as the party of "all Americans" Clay says they have to continue being so. Clay also points out that if he wins, he would be the first openly gay congressman from the South.
Concluding he says, "If the loudest and most hateful voices think they’re gonna speak for us, just tell them I’m warming up the old vocal chords."
Clay's campaign website describes him as a "strong Democrat" wanting "to bring sanity and civility back to the political conversation." It lists some of his progressive policies as including; stopping climate change, systemic racism, income inequality, gun violence, securing voting rights, free health care, and a woman’s right to choose.
In 2017 Clay described then President Donald Trump as a "nice guy," as reported by Forbes. Clay had appeared on the Trump-fronted Celebrity Apprentice in 2012. Clay later described himself as a "dumb-ass" for defending Trump.
Aiken finished second place on the second season of American Idol in 2003, and came out publicly as gay in 2008.
Watch Clay's campaign video below:
The Attitude February issue is out now.