Gay former American Idol star announces bid for Congress

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a white background.

Former American Idol runner-up Clay Aiken has announced his intention to run for Congress in his native North Carolina.

Aiken will seek the Democratic nomination for the 2nd Congressional District seat currently held by Republican Renee Ellmers.

In a video unveiling his bid, Aiken referred to his “golden ticket” – finishing second in the 2003 Idol competition, which led to several albums and a role in a Broadway musical.

But he said he empathises with those struggling in the district where he lives, referring to his upbringing by a mother who fled domestic violence.

“For most Americans, there are no golden tickets – at least not like the kind you see on TV,” he 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.”

The 35-year-old came out as gay in an interview with People magazine in 2008.

He said in an interview with the Associated Press that he does not believe his sexual orientation will play a role in whether or not people vote for him.

“There are dozens of issues that are important to the people living in the district, and that is not one of them,” he said.

He has campaigned against homophobic bullying and has attended events for Human Rights Campaign, a leading LGBT rights group.