Reality television fans who tuned into American Idol during the early years of the show’s run are very familiar with Clay Aiken and his music. The former American Idol contestant has stepped away from the entertainment world in recent years, preferring to focus his efforts on activism and politics. In early January 2022, Aiken made headlines when he announced his campaign for North Carolina’s 6th Congressional District. With fans catching up on Clay Aiken’s life and career in light of the announcement, many are wondering: What inspired him to run for Congress and what political party he is affiliated with.
When did Clay Aiken compete on ‘American Idol’?
Clay Aiken first rose to prominence in 2003, when he competed on the second season of American Idol. Fans loved Aiken’s soaring voice and sweet demeanor. Although he didn’t finish in first place, walking away with the second-place prize, many believe that he was the outstanding performer of the season. In the months following his rise to stardom, Aiken went on to release multiple best-selling albums, including Measure of a Man and On My Way Here.
In 2004, Aiken wrote a memoir titled Learning to Sing, and in 2008, he had his Broadway debut in the hit show Spamalot. After his 2012 stint on the TV show The Celebrity Apprentice, Aiken took a step away from the spotlight, redirecting his attention from his successful entertainment career to cause-driven work.
Clay Aiken recently announced his run for Congress in North Carolina
On Jan. 10, Clay Aiken announced his campaign for North Carolina’s 6th Congressional District. Aiken, who is running as a Democrat, is gunning for the seat held by Rep. Kathy Manning. According to People magazine, Aiken released a campaign video that made note of his reality TV roots while speaking to his new priorities.
“These days my life looks a lot more like yours than Justin Bieber’s, that I can promise you,” Aiken said in the video. “But one thing that has never changed for me is how much I love my home state.”
Aiken went on to detail how he’s “sick” of some recent political developments in his state and how he wants to encourage others to use their voices for change. He also detailed some issues that matter to him, including free health care, stopping the spread of gun violence, and income inequality. Additionally, Aiken called out the fact that, if elected, he would be the first openly gay congressperson from the South.
Notably, this is not Aiken’s first Congressional run. The singer ran for Congress in 2014, in an unsuccessful bid in a more Republican-leaning district.
What else has Aiken been up to since his ‘American Idol’ days?
Clay Aiken has mostly stayed out of the spotlight since leaving his recording career, but he has been open about certain high points in his life. In 2008, Aiken came out as gay and has since opted to use his platform in order to spread awareness of bullying in the gay community and the importance of familial support for LGBTQ+ youth.
The same year that he came out publicly, Aiken welcomed a baby boy named Parker Foster Austin with his friend, Jaymes Foster. According to Hollywood Life, Aiken celebrated his son’s birth with a brief statement, which read, “The little man is healthy, happy, and as loud as his daddy. Mama Jaymes is doing quite well also.” These days, Aiken prefers to keep Parker Austin away from the cameras, although it’s clear that he is inspired by his experience as a father to work for the rights of those around him.
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