When I first heard a few weeks ago that Clay Aiken was considering a run for Congress, I thought it was just one of those rumors. I thought the guy lived in a different state.

But last night, my twitter feed told me different. According to the twitterverse, he’s looking at a run for Renee Ellmers’s seat in the 2nd Congressional District. And if it comes from Twitter, you know it’s true.

So, then I began looking him up. Turns out that he does live in North Carolina. He moved back to Durham about four years ago or so. While that makes him eligible, that doesn’t necessarily make him qualified.

Then I read an interview with him from last May. Aiken says he’s not easily star-struck but was three times–when he met Diane Sawyer, Tom Brokaw and Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA). He was impressed with Sawyer and Brokaw because he’s a news junkie and he was impressed with Harkin because of the work the Senator has done with special education.

All right. That still doesn’t make him qualified but it does show that he’s well-informed and has a long-time interest in politics as opposed to looking for a new gig to keep him occupied. In a world where Congress is an entry-level political job for rich people, that’s more than some of our elected officials can say. Think John Edwards.

I’m glad to see Clay Aiken interested in North Carolina politics. We need new voices and new perspectives. A little star power, particularly directed at young people, can certainly help our cause.

Still, I wish he wouldn’t run in NC-02. I think we already have two candidates, Keith Crisco and Houston Barnes, who are well poised to give Ellmers a run for her money. Crowding the primary just increases the chances of a run-off. And, unfortunately, I don’t think the heavily rural, working-class district is ready to vote for an openly gay candidate.

Regardless of what he does, I hope Clay will be more vocal and visible in North Carolina politics. He’s not the kid on American Idol anymore. He’s a grown up who has money and star power. He could live anywhere he wants but he chose here. We could use more well-informed people who love North Carolina, not just politics, to get involved. Welcome to the fray, Clay.


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