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.
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Prior to his run on Idol, Aiken was a mild-mannered crooner and Sunday School teacher. After losing the second season final to Ruben Studdard, Aiken was more or less forced out of the closet and has since gone far left in his politics. North Carolina’s District 2 is more Republican now than it was when Ellmers was first elected, thanks to re-districting.
Aiken is likely to face scrutiny similar to that which drove another Democrat entertainer out of a Senate race in conservative Kentucky. Movie star Ashley Judd considered taking on Sen. Mitch McConnell from the left. The Golden Globe nominee was soon convinced that running for office probably wasn’t the best role for her, and she bowed out quickly.