Clay Aiken gave a lengthy interview about his congressional campaign, which he noted was his “first.” The implication is that in a subsequent campaign, Aiken would do better. Maybe he’ll run again, lose, and run again after that, a la Mitt Romney.

Like Romney, Aiken says he’s learned a lot from his failures. Perhaps the most important lesson is to never again run in such a conservative district. Why Aiken would run in NC-02 in the first place was always a head-scratcher, perhaps motivated by an inaccurate view that Renee Ellmers was vulnerable in the general election.

While Ellmers might need to worry about a primary, she’s safe in the general, and certainly against another challenge from Aiken. Instead, the former American Idol contestant would be better-suited running in the district that intersects the 2nd – the 4th, currently held by David Price.

For Aiken, the timing might be perfect, as Price is getting up in age and is rumored to be considering retirement. In an open-seat race, Aiken would start out as the frontrunner, despite the bevy of prominent Democrats who live in this uniquely shaped Research Triangle-Fayetteville district. Some of the potential candidates might include former Rep. Brad Miller, Rep. Grier Martin, House Minority Leader Larry Hall, and former state Sen. Eric Mansfield.

A potential hurdle Aiken might have to overcome is the skepticism of donors, who were not happy with his decision to allow his campaign to become the subject of a documentary TV mini-series. It remains to be seen how broad this discontent with Aiken is, but one thing is certain: his support with “Claymates” is undiminished, and despite losing last November, established politicians could struggle against another Aiken bid.

A Price retirement, then, could well trigger a chain reaction pitting multiple Democrats against each other in a race that could provide a lifetime seat in Congress – retreads like Aiken and Brad Miller against up-and-coming Democrats who are ready for their time in the sun and are not going to wait any longer. It would be a heck of a primary.


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