Clay Aiken, who has had a successful performance career since his appearance on American Idol in 2003, announced Wednesday that he is running for Congress against North Carolina Tea Party incumbent Rep. Renee Ellmers (R-NC). Though he faces two other Democratic contenders in the primary, Ellmers is already attacking his candidacy, including some anti-gay insinuations:
“It speaks volumes to the state of the N.C. Democratic Party that the primary is shaping up to be a choice between the failed Perdue Administration’s Keith Crisco, a lawyer who doesn’t even live in the district, an activist who’s (sic) own party rejected her in the last democrat primary – and Aiken, a performer whose political views more closely resemble those of San Francisco than Sanford,” Ellmers spokeswoman Jessica Wood wrote in an email. “Renee best represents the values of the voters in the 2nd District and remains focused on fighting for their families.”
Dan Gurley, former executive director of the North Carolina Republican party, criticized the statement, calling Wood’s comments on behalf of Ellmers “offensive and childish” and rebuking her as “uncreative and “small minded.”
Aiken is openly gay and has a partner and young son, but doesn’t expect it will be an issue for his campaign. It’s also unclear what “political views” Ellmers is referring to, since Aiken has yet to lay out his political positions.
Ellmers has a consistently anti-gay record. She opposed North Carolina’s constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage because it also banned civil unions, but she still opposes same-sex marriage. She has supported bills to limit the religious freedom of military chaplains to officiate same-sex marriages and endorsed efforts to defend the Defense of Marriage Act. The Human Rights Campaign has given Ellmers a score of zero for not supporting a single piece of pro-LGBT legislation.