It’s been 11 years since Clay Aiken narrowly lost American Idol, and six years since he came out of the closet. He’s remained quite famous even if his records haven’t really been part of the zeitgeist. This means his bid for Congress in North Carolina’s 2nd District will get more coverage than the average race, even though Aiken probably can’t win.
Now, this is a pretty solid bio spot, and the D.C. strategy firm that’s promoting Aiken is quick to remind everyone that he did work for UNICEF and served two years on the Presidential Committee for People with Intellectual Disabilities. The problem: North Carolina’s 2011 gerrymander. The 2nd District used to be a competitive seat leaning to the Democrats, but in 2011 it was shored up to protect Rep. Renee Ellmers, a telegenic freshman who won in part because the incumbent Democrat had throttle-hugged a tracker. (This makes quite a contrast with Aiken’s anti-bullying campaign.) Ellmers has since been promoted as the party’s voice on women-and-health-care, so I doubt she’ll lack support to win a seat that’s designed to re-elect her.
Still: Aiken is famous. Sandra Fluke, who is also famous, has announced she’ll pass on a race for Congress in California and run instead for state Senate. California’s state Senate districts are actually larger than its congressional districts, but there was a labor-backed female candidate, Wendy Greuel, jumping into the House race and thwarting an easy primary for Fluke. Both of them have been the subject of more national politics stories than Montana’s Steve Daines, West Virginia’s Shelley Moore Capito, and South Dakota’s Mike Rounds—all Republicans whose likely 2014 victories may win the GOP control of the Senate.
*Correction, Feb. 5, 2014: This post originally misspelled California congressional candidate Wendy Greuel’s last name.