Clay Aiken of “American Idol” fame made his long rumored run for North Carolina’s 2nd Congressional District official today, the News & Observer reported.

In a video posted on YouTube Wednesday — and in his interview with the N&O on Tuesday in Raleigh — Aiken talked about growing up poor in a home torn apart by domestic violence. “I’ve been fortunate in my life, and if you only know the part of my story that begins with a golden ticket — something that is unbelievable to me even to this day — you might wonder what would qualify me to run,” Aiken says in his video (posted above). “Well it starts with the life I remember all too well.”

Toward the end of the nearly five-minute video, he talks about his opponent, incumbent Congresswoman Renee Ellmers, a Dunn Republican. Aiken criticizes Ellmers’ votes to cut military funding and her support for the 2013 government shutdown.

“The district where I am running is represented by a congresswoman who I believe went to Washington with good intentions,” Aiken says. “But even though she knew voting for massive cuts to the military is bad for our country and district, she voted for them anyway. Ten times, after her party leaders told her to. And when party leaders told her to vote for the government shutdown, she did. Twenty-one times, even though she said herself it would be disaster for the economy. Then she complained she needed her paycheck.”

North Carolina’s 2nd Congressional District includes all or parts of Lee, Chatham, Harnett, Alamance, Cumberland, Hoke, Moore and Wake counties.

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