Clay Aiken announced on Monday (Jan. 10) that he is running for the House of Representatives in North Carolina’s 6th congressional district as a Democrat.
The American Idol season 2 runner up is hoping to replace Rep. David Price, who represented the Raleigh-Durham area for almost 35 years. Aiken previously lost the run for the 2nd congressional district in North Carolina in 2014.
In a new interview with Variety published on Tuesday (Jan. 11), Aiken revealed that while he “certainly wasn’t looking for a place to run again,” in November, he heard North Carolina’s lieutenant governor Mark Robinson, whom the star described as “empathetically challenged,” give a speech “in which he said, ‘What is the purpose of homosexuality? What purpose do homosexuals serve?'”
“I watched that sort of with just dumb struck awe that someone could be so ignorant,” Aiken shared. “After watching it, I said, you know, ‘I got your purpose, b—h. I will show you.'”
The jarring moment had Aiken thinking about North Carolina’s reputation, as he grew up in the state and has “never known a time when this state has had a reputation that wasn’t progressive and welcoming and friendly.”
“Then in the last six years, you know, North Carolina started being represented by people like Mark Meadows. And now we’ve got [Representative] Madison Cawthorn, who’s got his face all over TV. People know North Carolina for that reason,” he continued. “I’ve got friends who are in New York or California and I’ll call ’em and say why don’t you come visit for the weekend. I can’t tell you, Adam, how many times I’ve heard someone say, ‘I don’t know if I’d be comfortable in North Carolina;” And that pisses me the hell off […] I’m sick of that. I was not willing to let that be the reputation we have.”
If elected, Aiken would be the first openly gay member of Congress from the South, and shared that the core tenet of his campaign is “civility.”
“I just want people to start acting like grownups instead of children,” he explained. “I’ve got a kid who’s 13 years old, and I can’t watch the news around him because most of the time folks are yelling at each other, or calling each other names.”
He also discussed focusing on policy. “I think that the current congress and President Biden have done a relatively decent job of getting some of the basic things done that we need to get started on,” he said. “The transportation infrastructure bill is obviously a good start. I’d like to see Build Back Better passed. I’m frustrated that it hasn’t been passed, but I’m glad it has passed the House. I hope that it will hope it’ll pass the Senate, but it’s only going to do that if we stopped screaming at people and we’re willing to sit down and work out a deal.”
The 2022 election will be held on November 8.