1. Former American Idol star Clay Aiken officially announced Wednesday that he is running for Congress in North Carolina.
If he wins the Democratic primary, he’ll be challenging Rep. Renee Ellmers (R-N.C.), who’s held the seat since 2010.
2. The singer and activist announced the news on Twitter early Wednesday morning.
4. He released a campaign video on his website, explaining why he was taking on the endeavor:
Aiken introduces his story by detailing the abuse he and his mother suffered at the hands of his violent father, and the new life they started at a friend’s home in North Carolina. He highlights his working class roots, explaining how his mother protected him by distracting him with music, and the long nights she spent working at Sears to support their family.
5. “For most Americans, there are no golden tickets—at least not like the kind you see on TV,” Aiken says, referencing his American Idol run.
Aiken detailed his experience as a special education teacher and his years spent working with UNICEF in places like Afghanistan and Somalia.
Aiken also played up his bi-partisan experience, saying that while he is a Democrat, he was appointed by President George W. Bush to a special presidential commission on special education. “…That was when I first realized that our problems won’t be solved by only one party or the other. Instead, it’s going to require all of us,” Aiken says in the video.
6. “I think that Washington is dysfunctional, at this point,” Aiken said in an interview with The News & Observer.
While he believes that Ellmers had good intentions when she went to Washington to serve the state, Aiken claims she was influenced by the politics he pledges to avoid.
“She ended up in D.C. and was changed by it. I went to Hollywood and I didn’t let it change me, and I’ll go to Washington and I won’t let it change me,” Aiken said. “I think that too many people go to D.C. now […] and let it change them, and they forget that they’re voting for, working for people back in North Carolina.”