"American Idol" runner-up Clay Aiken is taking a serious look into running for Congress this year in his home state of North Carolina, according to a report in the Washington Blade. The singer, who also landed second-place on "Celebrity Apprentice" in 2012, has been consulting with political operatives for a possible run as a Democrat in North Carolina's 2nd congressional district.
Sources told the Blade that the 35-year-old Raleigh native has spoken with the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and has sought the help of political strategist Betsy Conti, who has worked with Al Gore and former North Carolina Gov. Bev Purdue.
Census-driven redistricting by the state has transformed the 2nd into a relatively safe seat for the GOP, making a victory by Aiken, an openly gay Democrat, an uphill battle. The seat is currently held by Republican Renee Ellmers, who in 2012 defeated Democratic nominee Steve Wilkins by a 56%-41% margin.
If he should decide to run, Aiken would likely not be the only Democrat in the race. Former state commerce secretary Keith Crisco is expected to announce his candidacy next week. The filing deadline is Feb. 28 and the primary is set for May 6.
In the meantime, Aiken is "sounding and acting like a candidate" when speaking with political consultants in his home state and in Washington D.C., where he reportedly met with pollsters last month.
Aiken has not commented on the report, nor has the DCCC.
Since rising to fame in 2003 during the second season of "American Idol," where he lost to Ruben Studdard, Aiken has released five studio albums and performed on television and Broadway. As an activist, he founded the National Inclusion Project, which advocates for children with disabilities, and he has worked with UNICEF. In 2006, President George W. Bush appointed him to the Presidential Committee for People with Intellectual Disabilities.