'American Idol' singer Clay Aiken to run for Congress in North Carolina

Wed Feb 5, 2014 12:20pm EST
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By Colleen Jenkins

WINSTON-SALEM, North Carolina (Reuters) - Former "American Idol" singer Clay Aiken said on Wednesday he will run for U.S. Congress as a Democrat in his home state of North Carolina, where he once worked as a special education teacher.

Aiken, 35, is likely to face a tough battle in his efforts to unseat Representative Renee Ellmers, a Tea Party Republican favorite, in the state's conservative 2nd congressional district.

The entertainer tried to position himself as a political outsider who wants to change Washington by giving a voice to people in need.

"I'm not a politician," he said in a video on his campaign website. "I don't ever want to be one."

Aiken described past challenges he had faced after his mother left his abusive father and worked hard to provide what little she could for his family.

He filmed the video in a small North Carolina home where he said he and his mother slept for months on a mattress in a friend's living room when he was young.

He noted his work teaching children with autism and his international travels with aid organization UNICEF, bookends to his runner-up finish in 2003 on the "American Idol" television talent show that thrust him into the national spotlight.

"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," Aiken said. "Well it starts with a life I remember all too well."   Continued...

Singer Clay Aiken arrives at the 2005 Primetime Emmy Awards in Los Angeles, California in this September 18, 2005 file photo. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson/Files