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Clay Aiken running for Congress

Singer Clay Aiken arrives at the 2005 Primetime Emmy Awards in Los Angeles, California in this September 18, 2005 file photo. Former "American Idol" singer Clay Aiken said on February 5, 2014 he will run for U.S. Congress as a Democrat in his home state of North Carolina, where he once worked as a special education teacher. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson/Files, Reuters

Clay Aiken running for Congress

The ”American Idol” runner-up will run for Congress, the North Carolina resident said. The 35-year old singer described his time on the Fox program as a “golden ticket,” but spent the bulk of a campaign video stressing his time as a special education teacher and his working class roots.

“For most Americans there are no golden tickets, at least not like the kind you see on TV,” Aiken said. “More families are struggling today than at any time in our history and here in North Carolina we’ve suffered more than our share of pain.”

Aiken will run as a Democrat and will face a field of primary challengers, including former state commerce secretary  Keith Crisco. If he prevails, he will then face off against two-term Rep. Renee Ellmers.

The district leaned Republican in recent national elections, and to that end Aiken stressed his appointment by President George W. Bush to a presidential commission on people with learning disabilities as a sign he could reach across the aisle.

“Our problems won’t be solved by only one party or the other, but instead it’s going to require all of us,” he said.

Aiken has been an advocate for gay rights. In addition to his time on “American Idol,” Aiken released several albums including  ”Measure of a Man” and “All is Well.” He also appeared on Broadway in “Spamalot.”