Singer Clay Aiken announced Monday he is planning to run for North Carolina's 6th Congressional District as a Democrat, The New York Times reported.
Aiken, a Raleigh native whose music career was jumpstarted on "American Idol," previously ran for the conservative 2nd District in 2014 against Renee Ellmers.
Now running in a solidly liberal district encompassing much of Durham and Chapel Hill, known locally as "the Triangle," the singer has a much stronger chance. The new 6th District Aiken is eying has a partisan lean of D+42, according to data by FiveThirtyEight.
"The people in the Triangle gave me the platform that I have, and I wanna use it to give back to them," Aiken told The News & Observer in a written statement.
"I want to be a loud voice for the Triangle when I get to Congress. I will tell you that. And we need a big voice."
Rep. David Price, D-N.C., was redistricted into the seat Aiken is now running for. However, the nearly 30-year nonconsecutive incumbent announced in October he was retiring from politics.
"It's hard to wrap your head around what we're losing with Congressman Price's retirement," Aiken said. "He's delivered so much for the Triangle."
In addition to Aiken, state Sens. Valerie Foushee, Wiley Nickel, and Durham County Commissioner Nida Allam are running.
Aiken stands out from the crowd not only for his entertainment accolades but as the only openly gay candidate running in the primary.
Andrew Reynolds, a political scientist at Princeton University, said there "has never been an out lesbian, gay, bisexual, or trans congressperson elected, from the South" in U.S. history.
However, Reynolds added it is more than possible for a gay candidate to be elected with the liberal nature of the Triangle compared to the rest of the region.
"I think he's not the front-runner," Reynolds said. "But he's in the top three. And if he gets into the top two, then who knows what happens."
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