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May 27, 2017

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'American Idol' celeb launches Congress bid

WASHINGTON--"American Idol" runner-up Clay Aiken declared Wednesday he is running for Congress, putting his singing career on hold as he aims to unseat a Republican from her North Carolina district.

Aiken said he would run as a Democrat against two-term congresswoman Renee Ellmers because he believes she is voting against her constituents' interests in the House of Representatives.

"This is what's wrong with Washington," Aiken said in a nearly five-minute video, where he highlighted his upbringing by a single mom and his experience as a special education teacher.

"That a congresswoman would go and vote against the best interests of North Carolina military families and those who depend on the military for their jobs," he said, adding that Ellmers voted to shut down the government at the bequest of her party leaders.

The 35-year-old, who finished second on the hit reality singing show in its second season in 2003, said he hoped voters in November would send him to Washington so he could serve people who do not have a voice.

"I'm not a politician. I don't ever want to be one," Aiken said.

"But I do want to help bring back, at least to my corner of North Carolina, the idea that someone can go to Washington to represent all the people, whether they voted for you or not."

In 2006, Aiken was appointed by George W. Bush to the Presidential Committee for People with Intellectual Disabilities.

Ellmers, who is chairwoman of the Republican Women's Policy Committee, recently dismissed Aiken's potential challenge.

"As we know, he doesn't always fare all that well," she told Washington radio station WMAL. "He was runner up."

Aiken has an uphill battle.

He faces former state commerce secretary Keith Crisco in the Democratic primary, and Ellmers' district voted for Republican Mitt Romney in the 2012 presidential election.

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