Singer, songwriter, TV personality and former American Idol runner-up Clay Aiken has formally declared his bid for Congress.
As a Democrat, he hopes to beat the chairwoman of the Republican Women’s Policy Committee, Renee Ellmers, in the race.
Since his public declaration to run opposite Ellmers on February 5, she has already reacted sourly, releasing a public statement through her spokesperson Jessica Wood in which she called Aiken a “performer whose political views more closely resemble those of San Francisco than Sanford.”
Her somewhat homophobic comment was swiftly followed by stating that she “best represents the values of the voters in the 2nd District and remains focused on fighting for their families.”
Her comments were criticized by gay former executive director of the North Carolina Republican Party, Dan Gurley, who wrote, “You were offensive and childish, and if you worked for me or any client of mine I’d fire you. Surely you know better than this. You have offended many on both sides of the political aisle with your ill thought out comments. Not only are you uncreative, but your [sic]small minded.”
In addition to her stance against marriage equality, Ellmers’ social-political view is entirely opposed by Aiken. In the past she has supported bills limiting religious freedom to military chapels as well as endorsing efforts to preserve the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).
On the other hand, since garnering fame on the second season of American Idol, Aiken has been an LGBT rights advocate, speaking out against North Carolina’s ban on same-sex marriage.
In his campaign video posted on Youtube, he stressed the impact that his upbringing, work with the underprivileged and those with intellectual disabilities has had on his decision to run.
He said, “I’m not a politician. I don’t ever want to be one, but I do want to help bring back — at least to my corner of North Carolina — the idea someone can go to Washington to represent all the people, whether they voted for you or not.”
Earlier in the week Ellmers mocked Aiken’s potential candidacy during a radio interview with WMAL Radio in Washington, saying, “As we know he doesn’t always fare all that well. He was runner-up.”
In 2006, Aiken was appointed to a presidential commission focused on people with intellectual disabilities, following his significant work with autistic students.