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Feb 5, 2014

Clay Aiken Announces Candidacy for Congress in North Carolina's 2nd District

Cary, North Carolina – Clay Aiken, the openly-gay North Carolina special-education teacher who became an internationally recognized recording artist, announced today that he will run as a Democratic candidate for United States Congress in the Second Congressional District.

In a reference to his success in the music industry, Clay announced his candidacy in a video released today, saying, "For most Americans, there are no golden tickets. At least not like the kind you see on TV. More families are struggling today than at any time in our history. And here in North Carolina, we've suffered more than our share of pain."

In the video, Clay talks about growing up in North Carolina and his work as a special-education teacher for students with autism. He also founded the National Inclusion Project that serves children with special needs in North Carolina and 34 other states.

"The years I spent as a special education teacher for students with autism was my first window into the difference that a person can make in someone's life," Aiken said in the announcement video. "Then it was the years I spent with UNICEF traveling to places of heartbreak, like the war zones of Afghanistan and Somalia where families had been torn apart and hope was sometimes hard to find."

In 2006, President George W. Bush appointed Aiken to a two-year term on the Presidential Committee for People with Intellectual Disabilities. "That was when I first realized that our problems won't be solved by only one party or the other," Aiken continues.

The Second Congressional District is one of the most likely targets for a Democratic victory over a Republican incumbent in 2014. "The district where I'm running is represented by a Congresswoman who I believe went to Washington with good intentions," Aiken says in the video. "I'd like to think that people don't go there with anything else."

Democrat Keith Crisco is also challenging Rep. Ellmers for the Second Congressional District seat.

In response to Aiken's announcement, Ellmers released the following coded anti-LGBT statement:

“It speaks volumes to the state of the N.C. Democratic Party that the primary is shaping up to be a choice between the failed Perdue Administration’s Keith Crisco, a lawyer who doesn’t even live in the district, an activist who’s (sic) own party rejected her in the last democrat primary – and Aiken, a performer whose political views more closely resemble those of San Francisco than Sanford,” Ellmers spokeswoman Jessica Wood wrote in an email. “Renee best represents the values of the voters in the 2nd District and remains focused on fighting for their families.”

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