January 2, 2014 at 9:13 pm EST | by Chris Johnson
Clay Aiken ‘actively considering’ run for Congress: sources
Clay Aiken is "actively considering" a run for Congress, sources say. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Clay Aiken is “actively considering” a run for Congress, sources say. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Gay singer and “American Idol” runner-up Clay Aiken is actively considering a bid to represent North Carolina’s 2nd congressional district in the U.S. House, according to two Democratic sources familiar with his plans.

The sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the 35-year-old Raleigh native has taken initial steps for a run, including consulting with political operatives in Washington, D.C., about a bid for the seat.

One Democratic source said Aiken  made phone calls to gauge support, talked to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and has met with figures in Raleigh, N.C., about a potential bid. Although it’s unclear when Aiken might formally announce a decision, the source said Aiken is “actively considering” it and “sounding and acting like a candidate.”

To help explore a run, the source said Aiken has been working with Betsy Conti, a Raleigh-based political strategist who’s worked for former North Carolina Gov. Bev Purdue and Democratic presidential nominee Al Gore in addition to serving as Maryland’s deputy labor secretary in the Glendening administration. It’s unclear whether Aiken has formally hired her or anyone else to help with his bid.

Another Democratic source said Aiken was in D.C. last month meeting with pollsters at Hart Research Associates to examine polling data with one of the partners at the firm.

The DCCC hasn’t responded to multiple requests to comment about a potential Aiken candidacy in the past few weeks. Neither Conti nor the Hart Research Associates responded to the Blade’s request for comment on Thursday.

Aiken himself was unable to be reached for comment. A Los Angeles-based management company known as the Firm, which reportedly represented Aiken for his music career in the last decade, didn’t respond to a request for comment.

Aiken wouldn’t be the only candidate on the Democratic side to pursue a run for the House seat, which is currently occupied by Rep. Renee Ellmers (R-N.C.). Former North Carolina Commerce Secretary Keith Crisco is expected to formally announce his candidacy on Monday. He  formed a campaign committee to explore a run in December.

The filing deadline to participate in the primary is Feb. 28. The primary itself in North Carolina is set for May 6.

Although the polls indicate Republicans may be favored as the mid-term elections approach on a general ballot, the Democratic nominee — whether it’s Aiken, Crisco or someone else — may have a shot at the seat, which comprises Raleigh and was controlled by Democrats before the Republican surge in 2010. A House Democratic aide, who also spoke on condition of anonymity, described the second congressional district as a “winnable seat” for Democrats.

After finishing in second-place on Fox’s “American Idol” in 2003, Aiken used the prominence he gained from performing on the show to launch a successful music and Broadway career. He’s sold more than six millions copies of his albums, and, according to Forbes, made $1.5 million in 2010.

Aiken has also drawn on his fame to help promote causes as an activist. He co-founded the the National Inclusion Project, formerly the Bubel/Aiken Foundation, which seeks to help children with disabilities. Tapped as a national ambassador for the United States Fund for UNICEF in 2004, Aiken has travelled to Afghanistan, Indonesia, Uganda, Mexico, Kenya and Somalia as part of aid missions.

The singer has also taken part in LGBT activism. In 2010, the singer appeared at a briefing on Capitol Hill on behalf of the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network, or GLSEN, to urge for passage of anti-bullying legislation with LGBT protections known as the Student Non-Discrimination Act and the Safe Schools Improvement Act.

“Like many kids now in middle schools and high schools, I was bullied,” Aiken said at the time. “I was picked on, I was called gay, I was called fag, I was called sissy, you name it. Fortunately, I was able to overcome it and live through it because of a number of friends who were supportive of me.”

Dogged by rumors about his sexual orientation during his appearance on “American Idol” and over the course of his musical career afterward, Aiken came out as a gay in 2008 by appearing on the cover of “People” magazine with his then-infant son Parker Foster Aiken.

“It was the first decision I made as a father,” Aiken told the magazine. “I cannot raise a child to lie or to hide things. I wasn’t raised that way, and I’m not going to raise a child to do that.”

Chris Johnson is Chief Political & White House Reporter for the Washington Blade. Johnson attends the daily White House press briefings and is a member of the White House Correspondents' Association. Follow Chris

    • LJ

      You might be a moron.

      • Benji

        No, that might be you. Anyone who knows anything about the guy knows that he has always been active in political issues, is very articulate, outspoken & impassioned. He also has a great voice.

    • Jackson

      What makes him excellent? What are his qualifications? Being “gay” isn’t exactly a qualification but it seems like that is the platform the democratic party has chosen for him. Has he ever run a business? Does he have an education (higher degree)? The article appears to be silent on these important matters. Sorry but “gay” isn’t a reason to elect or not elect someone.

    • Drew

      Did Barry Manilow change his name??

    • Patrick Henry

      Of couse his homosexual hook up at a Holiday Inn in Garner, NC located at 40/42 will have no bearing on whether he will defeat the current incumbent. The 2nd is very socially conservative has served her consituents well. Her defeat of the drunken moron Bob Etheridge was a God Send. No, Clay keep your money, it would be a waste to even try.

  • Kathleen Lynch

    Clay would be amazing in Congress or any other political position. is extremely proud to be from North Carolina and will represent the state well. He is smart, considerate, honest and down to earth. What a welcome change that would bring!

    • Jen

      Dorothy, can you tell us what it is about Clay Aiken that would make a good congressman?

    • JoJo

      And exactly what qualification does he have for this position or are you so dumbed down that you don’t value actual “qualification” in your leaders?

      • Lauren

        I think all the “Bravo” “Bravo” chatter is a wink to the major tv channel that would be covering his run..

        Hot political tip .. don’t start calling Duck Dynasty “vile”..

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    • Benji

      He was raised a conservative Christian, but disagrees with any one religion dominating the political discourse. Socially, he’s more liberal.

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  • dave

    What a joke. I suppose he can’t be much worse than the closet homos, crypto jews and vatican agents currently wrecking up the joint.

  • Scoon Jenkins


  • sick of liberals

    What a bunch of crap, and the low info voters here are all ready to vote for him.I guess if he decides to run for POTUS he can have Adam Lambert as his first…whatever the hell he is.

    • Patrick Henry

      LOL, don’t worry he’ll never get in. Too much baggage here in the 2nd District to defeat well-respected Renee Elmers

    • Jen

      Tom Wharton, that’s uncalled for. Who cares if he’s gay as long as he adheres to the constitution!

    • Zach

      Tom go crawl under the bridge you came from, and please drown yourself in the river it crosses. #Troll

  • Tim

    great, another person out of touch with the working person.



  • Let’s hope he runs and the voters tell us what they really think of his ability to serve in a way he never forgets and always regrets.

  • Lance

    Stick to singing.

  • Dusty

    There was absolutely no substantive material in this article that would lead me to believe that he would be either a good or a bad congressman. Perhaps we should vet his politics before we jump on the bandwagon and vote him into congress.

  • doug

    luckily, he is used to coming in second

  • Jen

    More power to him if he understands what the Constitution is and what it means and if he intends to honor his oath to protect and defend said constitution. But since he’s running as a democrat, me thinks he has no clue what all of that even means. Sad.

    • Patrick Henry

      Renee Elmers has all of that withot putting him into this office. If he runs I will have to vote just to vote against him!

  • Durpi Tude

    We don’t need any more degenerates in Congress. The ship is sinking already.

  • Rod

    I guess that being a gay now qualifies someone for Congress. Next, we will have President Rupaul. Come to think of it, Obama is pretty gay himself.

  • Rod

    I guess that being a gay is now what makes someone qualified for Congress. Next, we’ll have President Rupaul. We basically have that now with Obamanation.

  • Andy P

    Would like to know his stance on the issues. Hope it’s not just a run for homosexuals.

  • Stan

    Well he certainly meets all of the liberal criteria to run for office, eh? The sheep are going to come out in droves to vote for this one.

  • HM Phobe

    You probably should do this in a blue state – doubt you would win a red state.

  • RightStuff

    In Ancient Rome, whenever the court jesters tried to involve themselves in the government or politics, they were swiftly made to disappear. Just what I’ve heard. Not suggesting anything.

  • ConcernedOne

    I sure hope the kids on here saying “he would be great” “he’s got in all” are NOT allowed to vote.

    I’ll ask you: HOW would he be great? What does he bring to the US Citizens? What experience? Where does he stand on the US Constitution? The State Constitution? The FIRST thing this shabby article does is call him a “Gay Singer” Wow, now that is something. Not a great singer or performer or anything else, it LABELED him by his SEXUALITY. That IS NOT a characteristic to run for political office. Nor should looks or someone who can read a teleprompter.

    Get a clue!

    • Benji

      Why don’t YOU get a clue? Perhaps the people saying they’d vote for him actually know more about him than you. Ever think of that? He has many qualifications – look them up.

    • Patrick Henry

      He’ll bring absolutely nothing to our District, Of course my only concern is that this district did elect the drunk Bob Etheridge a few times. I’m sure a few low information voters will be trying to vote American Idol style


    Why not just enjoy the money you make thru capitalism and then start your own foundation and stay out of the deemer crook lair, so your life won’t get more screwed up?
    Really stupid thinking by a meat head..

  • Nancy

    This amazes me how people are gushing over this guy running for Congress. What makes him so great – singing ability (dubious at best) doesn’t equate with ability to get this country out of its problems. I bet every one of you hang on every morsel Hollywood stars say about politics .. as if they are experts also. This is the sad state our country has come to.

    • Did you have this sort of negative attitude about Ronald ‘no qualification other than B-movie actor’ Reagan running for office? Or Gopher? Or Ah-nuld?

  • Flannigan McGaffigan

    Clay Aiken’s credentials for government leadership are:
    1) Practicing homosexual
    2) Sings well

  • deskboy

    I bet he sings the national anthem at Pinkskins games

  • Hans

    Yah, like we need another inexperienced stupid congressman. But then the stupid “sheep” will probably vote him in just as they did Obummer.

  • David Hedricks

    I’m sure Barney Frank is quite pleased!

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    • The Washington Blade is a gay newspaper. Your comments are highly offensive. If you don’t like gays don’t come here.

    • Delta

      LMFAO !!!!! Now that’s funny

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  • The Gay agenda is being forced on America! Gay marriage, gay boy scouts, transgender bathrooms in elementary school….the moral decay of this nation is happening before our eyes!!!

  • Free Man

    Sexuality has nothing to do with how I vote but there was one thing in this article that eliminates Clay from getting any support from me and hopefully any other sane person who doesn’t vote blindly.

    Clay has been actively working with Al Gore. Anyone who works with Al Gore loses a lot of creditibilty. It would be really easy to pick apart any false ideology that comes from these lying leeches.

    I hope clay distances himself as much as possible from Al Gore and when he gets asked his political views I hope he is honest,

    • Benji

      You need to learn to read. I doubt he’s even met Al Gore. However, a political strategist he’s been talking with WORKED with Al Gore. 2 degrees of seperation – get it?

  • Deb

    What qualifications does he have for the office? What would make him an excellent congressman? I’d want more from my congressperson than being able to sing.

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    • Gomorrah

      Public or behind closed doors? Perhaps they’re the same?

  • Faye Schull

    Can he really get elected with a “There’s Something About Mary” Cameron Diaz hairdo.

  • Wow, another UNQUALIFIED idiot who thinks he can be a Congcritter. Well, he’s no dumber than Hank Johnson or Maxine Waters or Sheila Jackson-Lee or Nutsy Baloney.

  • Dominic

    Enough with the obsession over who is gay or not. Simply being gay does not qualify you for anything! I am so sick and tired of hearing about who’s a homosexual, who’s not, who said this about homosexuals, who said that. Give it a rest already.

  • Sami

    I saw Clay once on FACE THE NATION – he really surprised me with his solid grounding in the issues that day. I wouldn’t count him out. Everyone laughed at Sonny Bono & he turned out to be a very popular Congressman in his district.

    • gregorious

      I’d say most politicians make bad politicians. He’s gay, an entertainer, not a veteran, never ran a business, as far as anyone knows never studied history, economics, civics, law or foreign affairs… THE PERFECT CANDIDATE FOR OUR CURRENT POLITICAL CLIMATE AND CULTURE.

  • Russ

    I’m glad he is used to finishing second.

    • Patrick Henry

      You don’t live in the 2nd District. NC is a very diverse state. The 2nd is a rural area for the most part touching some parts of Raleigh but not the populated areas. So as a Red State that has a Republican HOuse Senate and Governor, voted against the tyrant last time in the White House, With Kay HAgan already on the ropes for her Senate seat down under 40% without a Republican challenger yet. He has zero chance, unless there is stuffing the ballot box American Idol Style voting doesnt count in Elections unless you are B Obama

  • Sam

    Good thing Clay is already accustomed to coming in second.

    He is not going to help Democrats with their image problem in North Carolina any.

  • YouGotToBeKiddingMe

    He has his homosexual agenda and that is all he has and that is not what is on the minds of 98% of American’s. Go away and don’t look back North Carolina does not need you pushing your gay agenda.

  • A fetish of pumping poo is not anything to do with equality . Sexual deviates who risk infecting everyone with Aids and hep a, b, c . should not be allowed near food or other people let alone children its a huge health hazard . They have the hide to say all normal people have to take away mother and father from all legal documents because it offends them , yet it offends all normal people and their children what they are doing . Anus is not made for sexual activity , ITS DISGUSTING . This is like the Jones town cult .


    Have to admit…. A gay singer/entertainer should be more qualified than a community organizer.

    • Patrick Henry

      How is Renee Elmers a community organizer? Her occupation is Nursing. People outside of the 2nd District of North Carolina should keep their opinions to their own state.

  • El gato

    He heard about Obummer being on the down low, so he want’s to get into position (on his knees) to help Obummer get off. Just what we need…another boob with no qualifications or experience telling everyone else how to live. Keep the queer in the sewer where he belongs. All you sick women who like him should be ashamed of yourselves!

  • eilspaul

    forget owning a business, managing people, solving problems, making payroll, running a nonprofit, studying public policy, creating jobs, working in other areas of the public sector, et.al.

    the dncc is now using this checklist to find “qualified” candidates:
    __ appeared on reality t.v.
    __ gay

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