ORANGE COUNTY, N.C. (WGHP) — Clay Aiken, an entertainer who ran for Congress in North Carolina nearly eight years ago, is returning the political stage.
Aiken told The News & Observer in Raleigh that he would run for the Democratic nomination in what is set to become the 6th Congressional District.
That district includes Chapel Hill and Orange County areas and surrounding communities and is a district that is vacant of an incumbent after Democrat David Price announced he would be retiring.
The situation remains fluid though because a 3-judge panel in Wake County Circuit Court will rule by Tuesday on three lawsuits that were filed to challenge how the General Assembly had drawn the maps for 14 Congressional seats and the state House and Senate.
Aiken – and numerous other announced candidates – can’t officially file for their races, because the state Supreme Court in December halted formal candidate filing and delayed the primary election from March to May 17 to accommodate decisions and appeals in the three suits, which were argued jointly.
All three suits argue the district lines were drawn to preserve Republican dominance in a state where voter registration and records are much more divided. Republicans say they did not use voting records in drawing the district lines.
The maps split the three big urban districts for Congress and, critics argue, establish at least a 10-4 dominance for Republicans. Guilford County is at the epicenter of this debate, because the current 6th District – Guilford County and Winston-Salem – is divided among four separate districts (three in Guilford) and double-bunks Democrat Rep. Kathy Manning (D-Greensboro) with current 5th District Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-Banner Elk) in what would be a sprawling 10th District.
WNCN-TV in Raleigh reported that Aiken, who earned his fame as runner-up on “American Idol,” made his announcement in a video on Sunday. Those remarks included pointed comments about two prominent Republicans: Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson and Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-Hendersonville).
Aiken told the News & Observer that he feels that region “gave me my platform” and that “I want to use it to give back to them.”
Aiken in 2014 ran against Republican Renee Ellmers in what then was the 2nd District. He lost by 18 points.