RALEIGH — Pop singer Clay Aiken is seriously considering running in the Democratic primary to challenge incumbent U.S. Rep. Renee Ellmers in the 2nd Congressional District.
Gary Pearce, a longtime Democratic Party consultant, said Friday that Aiken has discussed the prospect with him and others. Pearce said he has had two or three conversations with Aiken over the past month.
“He’s a smart guy,” Pearce said. “He’s serious. He’s approaching it the right way. I think a fresh face, someone who has not been been in politics, is exactly what the Democratic Party needs in this environment.”
Pearce said he didn’t yet have a role in Aiken’s prospective campaign, and didn’t know if he would.
Aiken’s exploration of the campaign – which has been rumored over the past few weeks but not confirmed publicly until now – was first reported by The Associated Press early Friday evening.
Earlier, even the rumors prompted the N.C. Republican Party to mock him. In a statement released Thursday, Executive Director Todd Poole said, “Clay Aiken, who was the runner-up on American Idol and Celebrity Apprentice is running for Congress? Seriously?”
Aiken, 35, lived in Raleigh when he suddenly gained national fame in 2003 as a contestant on “American Idol,” which led to a recording contract and a bestselling album. He subsequently appeared on other TV shows, and in concert.
Aiken publicly announced in 2008 that he is gay.
Jarvis: 919-829-4576; Twitter: @CraigJ_NandO