American Idol runner-up and Broadway star Clay Aiken is mulling a congressional run, according to a report from the Washington Blade.
Aiken could run for a seat in the U.S. House to represent North Carolina’s 2nd Congressional District. A source told the Blade that Aiken had been meeting with political operatives and pollsters in Washington, D.C. to help him explore a possible campaign.
This would be a change of heart for the former Idol, who told North Carolina’s WRAL radio station last week he had no plans to run for Congress.
Aiken has until Feb. 28 to file to run. If he does, he’ll likely face a Democratic primary challenge from former North Carolina Commerce Secretary Keith Crisco.
The 2nd District seat has been held by Rep. Renee Ellmers, a Republican, since 2011. Ellmers made headlines back in October after an AR-15 rifle was reportedly stolen from her unlocked garage. Ellmers has also been a leader on the right in challenging the Affordable Care Act, which she’s also used as an example of the Obama administration’s “war on women.”
Ellmers came under fire from members of her own party in October after she initially condemned the effort to shut down the government, then later voted against the measure to raise the debt ceiling and reopen the government. “I want her to be a statesman and negotiate. These people are so fixed in their attitudes,” one of her constituents told the News Observer. ”The hardliners are killing the Republican Party.”
“Her opinions are not consistently conservative,” another constituent said. “I would like her to stand firm.”
Aiken rose to fame in 2003 during the second season of American Idol. After the competition, he released seven albums, went on several tours, and competed in The Celebrity Apprentice. He made his Broadway debut in 2008, the same year his son was born and Aiken came out as gay. Since then, he has participated in LGBT activism and has spoken to Congress to urge them to pass bills that would protect LGBT students from bullying.
In 2012, Aiken revealed his dream to one day become governor of North Carolina. “When I was in eighth grade, we had to do a project where we interviewed somebody we admired and wrote a paper about them. Everybody did [theirs on] a parent or their youth pastor or someone close to them. I called (the late U.S. Senator, D-N.C.) Terry Sanford’s office in Raleigh and went and interviewed Terry Sanford,” Aiken told the Charlotte Observer.