Is Clay Aiken Republican or Democrat? Congress hopeful's views explored

Bruno Cooke January 11, 2022
Is Clay Aiken Republican or Democrat? Congress hopeful’s views explored
Photo by Roy Rochlin/Getty Images

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Ex-American Idol star Clay Aiken (full name: Clayton Holmes Aiken, born Grissom), from North Carolina, is “warming up the old vocal cords” for a second run for congress – is he Republican or Democrat? What are his political views?

Is Clay Aiken Republican or Democrat?

Clay Aiken is running as a Democrat to represent North Carolina’s 6th congressional district. In fact, he goes so far as to call himself a “loud and proud Democrat” on the Get Reacquainted With Clay Aiken section of his campaign website.

As of 3 January, 2021, the district includes the entirety of Guilford County and portions of Forsyth County. It has a population of about 800,000.

He announced his bid yesterday via Twitter. In the video, he reminisces about his time on American Idol – “that was almost 20 years ago. Can you believe that?” – and details his love for the state of North Carolina.

“You know, for decades, North Carolina was actually the progressive beacon in the South. We had the best roads and the best schools because back then the loudest voices in our government were progressives.”

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Has Clay Aiken run for congress in NC before?

Yes. In February 2014, Aiken launched his first bid for congress – to represent North Carolina’s 2nd district. That year, like in his current bid, Clay Aiken ran as a Democrat, not a Republican or independent candidate.

At the time, he sought to challenge the incumbent, Renee Ellmers, then a two term Republican. In that year’s midterms, he was the Democratic Party’s candidate for NC’s 2nd congressional district, having won the primary by fewer than 400 votes.

However, Ellmers defeated him in the general election with 59% of the vote, to Aiken’s 41%. Aiken’s 2014 campaign – his “political baptism” – featured in the 2015 documentary The Runner-Up, which premiered on the Esquire Network on April 7.

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THE $100,000 PYRAMID – Ana Gasteyer vs Luke Kirby and Ashanti vs Clay Aiken This week on The $100,000 Pyramid, actress and comedian Ana Gasteyer faces off against actor Luke Kirby followed by actress and singer Ashanti and singer Clay Aiken on WEDNESDAY, AUG. 25 (9:00-10:00 p.m. EDT), on ABC. (Heidi Gutman/ABC via Getty Images) CLAY AIKEN

“Clay is an engaging character,” Billboard quotes producer Simon Chinn as saying, after a screening of the first episode at The Andaz Hotel in New York City.

“He swears a lot, he’s charming. He’s lots of things. It was sort of an impossible journey with almost insurmountable odds. You know that is going to make high drama.”

What are some of Aiken’s political beliefs?

Since he came out as gay in 2008, Aiken has become more politically outspoken – particularly, as one might expect, on issues like gay marriage.

He appeared on CBS’s Face The Nation in 2012 to discuss North Carolina’s Amendment One – which banned civil unions in the state.

“Over 60 percent of North Carolinians actually support some recognition for same-sex couples,” he said, “be it civil unions or domestic partnerships.”

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“I really strongly believe that in the next 20 years,” he continued, “we’re going to look back on this and be sort of ashamed of the fact that we were against this, just as we’re ashamed today we didn’t let people of different races get married.”

But gay marriage was not “the issue” he campaigned on.

“I ran for Congress not because of same sex marriage,” Aiken says in The Runner-Up

“Am I a gay man? Yes. Would I like same sex marriage to be legalised around the country? Yes. But, are there dozens of other issues that are just as important and to other people more important? Certainly. So, I ran for congress for that purpose.”

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Bruno is a novelist, amateur screenwriter and journalist with interests in digital media, storytelling, film and politics. He’s lived in France, China, Sri Lanka and the Philippines, but returned to the UK for a degree (and because of the pandemic) in 2020. His articles have appeared in Groundviews, Forge Press and The Friday Poem, and most are readable on Medium or onurbicycle.com.