Clay Aiken officially joins North Carolina Congress race


The former "American Idol" runner-up filed his candidacy papers in Raleigh Thursday for the 2nd Congressional District seat currently held by Republican Rep. Renee Ellmers.

Aiken, who announced his bid three weeks ago, says he is running because he believes he can help end the gridlock in Washington. He will face a May primary against at least two other candidates - former state Commerce Secretary Keith Crisco of Asheboro and licensed professional counselor Toni Morris of Fayetteville.

The 35 year old surrounded himself with family and former teachers while speaking to reporters at the State Board of Elections. He says people want Congress to find solutions to problems and says lowering unemployment would be a top priority.

Following Aiken's filing, Ellmers said in a statement that she welcomes "that debate about how to get our economy growing again with new jobs and real pay raises for our working middle class families."

"I also look forward to replacing Obamacare with an affordable health care plan that let's people keep their insurance and doctors," she said. "My focus continues to be on fighting for the families of the Second District and working to find conservative solutions to the challenges we face."

"Regardless of whomever wins the Democratic primary, the voters of our district will have a clear choice between a Congresswoman with a conservative track record of fighting for their families and a liberal who supports the failed Obama Administration policies that have seen family incomes shrink, the destruction of our health care system and a jobless so called recovery," Ellmers said.

Aiken lives in Chatham County and grew up in Raleigh. He has said his non-singing background - he was a special education teacher - led him to get in the race. He's already raised more than $100,000 since announcing his candidacy.

The singer finished second to Ruben Studdard in TV's 2003 "Idol" competition. He's also released albums and worked on Broadway.

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