Former American Idol star Clay Aiken is running for Congress in 2014, challenging Republican Rep. Renee Ellmers in North Carolina’s second district.
Aiken released a five-minute video on a campaign website Wednesday introducing himself to voters and hitting Ellmers for her votes on the government shutdown and more.
It won’t be an easy fight: 58% of voters in the district chose Mitt Romney over President Barack Obama in the 2012 presidential contest. But before Ellmers won her seat in 2010, it was held by a Democrat for more than a decade.
In his video, Aiken talked about being raised by a single mom and his time spent teaching special education.
“If you only know the part of my story that begins with a golden ticket,” Aiken said. “You might wonder what would qualify me to run, well it starts with a life I remember all too well—Mom working nights at Sears, clothes from the thrift store.”
The Democrat went on to distinguish himself from other politicians, saying, well, that he isn’t one.
“I’m not a politician, I don’t ever want to be one, but I do want to help bring back at least to my corner of North Carolina, the idea that someone can go to Washington to represent all people—whether they voted for you or not,” he said.
“I’m a Democrat,” he says, adding that his work on a President Bush-appointed education panel helped him rise above the party lines. “That was when I first realized that our problems won’t be solved by only one party or the other, but instead it’s going to require all of us.”
He criticized Ellmers as a partisan hack.
“When her party leaders told her to vote for the government shutdown, she did—twenty one times—even though she said herself it would be a disaster for the country. And then she complained that she needed her paycheck,” he said.
North Carolina has previously enjoyed celebrity in its congressional representatives—former NFL quarterback Heath Shuler held a seat in western North Carolina for three terms until last year.
But very few Democrats have managed to hold on in conservative districts like the one Aiken hopes to represent —just Democrats are currently in the House now in similar districts; two are retiring after tough re-election battles in 2012.