Clay Aiken is officially running for Congress

American Idol 2 runner-up Clay Aiken is officially running for Congress, he announced today, following reports that he was exploring a bid. His web site, Clay for North Carolina, says, “I’m running for Congress for the same reason I chose to become a special education teacher years ago — to help people in need and to give them a voice.”

If he wins the primary, his opponent would be Republican Congresswoman Renee Ellmers, who appears to already be worried about him, judging by some weak trash-talking she did during a radio interview: “he doesn’t always fare all that well. He was runner up. … You can throw in there that he (couldn’t win on Celebrity Apprentice). … So I guess the next step is Congress.”

Why is Clay running? “I saw this as the best place I could serve, because I think Washington, in general, is dysfunctional. I think it’s high time we put people in Congress who were not beholden to their party, and not beholden to anything but the people who they live around and grew up around, in my case,” he told the Raleigh News & Observer.

One of his primary opponents, Houston Barnes, will drop out as a result of Clay’s entering the race, and the paper reported that Barnes “says Ellmers is vulnerable and Aiken is the best Democrat for the job”–and also that “Aiken’s campaign consultants approached him a few weeks ago and convinced him the party’s best shot was to try to avoid a bruising primary and marshal forces against Ellmers.”

In this campaign video, Clay talks about his abusive father and his background as a teacher, saying, “If you only know the part of my story that begins with a golden ticket, something that still seems unbelievable to me even to this day, you might wonder what would qualify me to run.”

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about the writer

Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 36, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.