Clay Aiken is best known for coming in second on the second season of American Idol. He’s second most famous for coming in second on the Celebrity Apprentice. Now he’s running for North Carolina’s second congressional district. Here’s what you need to know:
1. Aiken Has Met With the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee
According to ABC News, Aiken has “reportedly” had meetings with DCCC officials to discuss a potential candidacy. He’s also apparently met with Democratic pollsters at Hart Research, a firm that worked on both of Obama’s presidential campaigns.
2. Aiken Would Be Trying to Oust Renee Ellmers
The 2nd congressional district in North Carolina is currently represented by Renee Ellmers, who gained the seat during the Tea Party wave of 2010. On the strength of her opposition to the Affordable Care Act, Ellmers ousted seven-term incumbent Bob Etheridge by 0.9% or 1,483 votes.
Ellmers is set to face conservative talk show host Frank Roche in the 2014 Republican primary.
3. Only Two Republicans Have Represented the District Since 2008
Before Ellmers, David Funderbuck enjoyed a single-term from 1995-1997. Before that Republicans had been shut-out int the district for a full century. However, Obama lost the district by 13 points in 2008, and 16 points in 2012.
4. Republicans Have Total Control Over North Carolina State Government
In 2008, Barrack Obama cobbled together a coalition of educated liberals from the state’s “Research Triangle,” minority voters, and urbanites to turn North Carolina blue for the first time in the new millennium.
But the electorate for mid-terms skews older, whiter, and more conservative, and in 2012 Republicans gained control of the governor’s mansion, and veto-proof majorities in both houses of the state legislature. The Republicans have used their power to implement a radical conservative agenda: blocking the Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid Expansion, cutting the corporate tax rate along with education funding, legalizing concealed weapons in bars, proposed a ban on Shari’a law, passing draconian abortion regulations that succeeded in shuttering the state’s last clinic, and enshrining a series of voting restrictions to insulate their agenda from democratic reproach.
The measures have inspired an energetic, organized back-lash known as the Moral Monday Movement, which has led protests against various Republican-led initiatives on Mondays throughout the past year.
If Aiken runs, he will be running as an out-gay man in a state that has a constitutional amendment against his right to marry.
5. Aiken Would Have Some Competition in Democratic Primary
North Carolina lawyer Houston Barnes, has officially declared his candidacy for the democratic nomination. Barnes is a business attorney, and self-described entrepreneur. Former Secretary of Commerce Keith Crisco, has also declared his intention to challenge Ellmers, though it’s not clearly what party he would run with.