RALEIGH: Clay Aiken officially joins NC Congress race - Alabamas13.com WVTM-TV Birmingham, AL

Clay Aiken officially joins NC Congress race

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RALEIGH, N.C. -

Singer and actor Clay Aiken is now officially making the switch to wear the hat of a North Carolina congressional candidate.

On Thursday, the former "American Idol" runner-up filed his candidacy papers in Raleigh for the 2nd Congressional District seat currently held by Republican Rep. Renee Ellmers. Aiken filed the papers surrounded by his family and teachers.

He said the issue he feels strongest about is lowering unemployment, and he wants to run a positive campaign.

"This pervasive sense that in order to succeed in politics, you have to trash the other side, that's the thing that frustrates me the most," Aiken said. "I think if we can stop that culture of, 'The only way I can succeed is if I make you look bad,' then I think we'll have a lot more success in solving some of the other problems and working together."

Aiken is a Democrat and will face a May primary against at least two other candidates - former state Commerce Secretary Keith Crisco of Asheboro and licensed professional counselor Toni Morris of Fayetteville.

Aiken lives in Chatham County and grew up in Raleigh. He has said his non-singing background - he was a special education teacher - led him to get in the race. He's already got a campaign team and says he's raised more than $100,000 since announcing three weeks ago.

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