US midterm elections: American Idol contestant running in North Carolina

Former American Idol runner-up, Clay Aiken, is tonight hoping to do better than second place as he runs as a Democrat

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The Independent US

The crucial US midterm result in North Carolina will be that of the closely fought contest between the incumbent Democrat Senator, Kay Hagan, and her GOP challenger, Thom Tillis.

But some music fans may also be keeping an ear out for the result of the Congressional race in the state’s second district. That’s because a beloved former American Idol runner-up, Clay Aiken, is tonight hoping to do better than second place as he runs as a Democrat to unseat Republican Renee Ellmers.

Born in Raleigh, North Carolina, the 35-year-old sometime special education teacher lost out narrowly in the talent show’s 2003 final, but has nonetheless gone on to success on Broadway and the Billboard charts. In 2008, he appeared on the cover of People magazine after announcing that he was gay. Now Mr Aiken is running for national office as a Democrat, in a conservative district of a state that voted narrowly for Mitt Romney in 2012.

 

On his way to the American Idol final, Mr Aiken picked up 12 million votes from the American public. He doesn’t need nearly that many to triumph tonight. But in what might be seen as a bad omen for the underdog candidate, his campaign bus broke down this morning as it was leaving the polling station where he had just voted. Police had to tow the vehicle off the road.

Meanwhile, North Carolina’s Senate contest is seen as a bellwether for the broader national result, with Ms Hagan clinging on for dear life against Mr Tillis, the Speaker of the North Carolina House of Representatives. Like most Democrat candidates across the US, Ms Hagan has sought to distance herself from a deeply unpopular President. But in the past 24 hours, her campaign released a radio ad featuring Mr Obama’s dulcet tones, advising voters: “Stand with me, President Obama, and take responsibility in moving North Carolina forward by voting for Kay Hagan.”

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