Say what you want about Clay Aiken, but the second season American Idol runner-up does have a huge fan base. People love this goofy,...

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Singer Clay Aiken is clinging to a slim lead early Wednesday in his bid to become the Democratic nominee for his U.S. House district in North Carolina.

The American Idol runner-up is leading former North Carolina Commerce Secretary Keith Crisco by 369 votes with more than 99 percent of the vote counted.

(UPDATE: Crisco has died and Aiken has suspended his campaign, though he's expected to move on and face Republican incumbent Renee Ellmers for the seat in Congress.)

Both candidates are hovering around the 40 percent mark, results show, while Toni Morris, a licensed professional counselor, was a distant third place.

An official winner may not be announced for days as recounts and challenges are all but certain in a race this close, but Aiken is currently out in front.

The winner of North Carolina's Democratic congressional primary race will face incumbent Republican U.S. Rep. Renee Ellmers in November's selection.

Republican Mitt Romney easily carried North Carolina's 2nd District in the 2012 presidential election with 58 percent of the vote, but Ellmers' popularity is suspect.

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Someday, the following list will not be necessary.

Someday, celebrities will not need to make any sort of official announcement regarding their sexuality because, quite simply, no one will care and society will be fully accepting of all orientations.

But that day hasn't arrived yet, for reasons explained so eloquently by Ellen Page when she came out as a lesbian on Friday:

Perhaps these stars can make a difference. Maybe they can positively influence others struggling with their sexual identity, using their public platform to push for tolerance.

So, with all that in mind, we join many in Hollywood in saluting Page and other famous folks who are very out and awfully proud:

Ellen Page
Ellen Page made a major announcement in early 2014: She's gay. We applaud her for it.

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Clay Aiken has made the rumor into a reality:

He is running for Congress in North Carolina.

The former American Idol champion has released a lengthy video to promote his campaign, citing his success in music and his work with UNICEF as reasons why he should earn your vote.

“I’m not a politician. I don’t ever want to be one,” says Aiken, slamming incumbents for their military cuts and last year's government shutdown.

“This is what’s wrong with Washington," Aiken explains. "That a Congresswoman would go there and vote against the best interests on North Carolina military families, and those that depend on the military for their job.”

Will you vote for Aiken, who may struggle for support from Rihanna fans? VOTE NOW:

 

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Ten and a half years ago, Clay Aiken rose to fame by winning America's votes. In 2014, he may try to court them again, this time at the ballot box.

Only one district of North Carolina will decide the winner of this contest, though, if he decides to enter it: Clay is considering running for U.S. Congress.

Clay Aiken on the Red Carpet

According to a new report from the Washington Blade, the second-season American Idol runner-up is "actively" laying the ground work for a political run.

He has consulted with political operative Betsy Conti, who worked for former Vice President Al Gore and former North Carolina Governor Bev Perdue.

One Democratic source said Aiken made phone calls to gauge support, talked to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee about a potential bid.

Although it’s unclear when Aiken might announce a decision, the source said Aiken is “actively considering” it and “sounding and acting like a candidate."

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Next year will mark a decade since Clay Aiken finished second on American Idol.

But the singer - who is off on a new holiday-themed tour - doesn't expect the show to honor this 10th anniversary via any kind of performance invitation, not considering the path Aiken believes Idol has headed down.

Clay Aiken Pose

"Idol back in those days was about the contestants," Aiken tells The Hollywood Reporter. "Kelly [Clarkson] and Justin and Tamyra [Gray] and Nikki McKibbin, they were all the stars of the show. And when I was on, Ruben [Studdard] and myself and Kimberley Locke were the stars of the show.

"Now Idol is about the judges. I don't even know if they remember there are contestants anymore."

Ouch. Zing!

Season 12 will feature three new panelists, of course, but the past few months have been focused entirely on the supposed feud between Mariah Carey and Nicki Minaj, lending credence to Aiken's point.

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John Rich and Clay Aiken missed each other on Celebrity Apprentice, with the country singer taking the title one season and the former American Idol finalist finishing second a year later.

And that's too bad because we can only imagine what fireworks may have exploded if these artists had actually done battle on national television.

  • Clay Aiken on the Red Carpet
  • John Rich Pic

While watching last night's Republican National Convention in Tampa, Aiken Tweeted: "Playing drinking game with my brother now. We drink every time we see a black person on screen at the RNC convention #soberasamormon."

The slam didn't sit well with Rich, who quickly responded by calling out the singer on Twitter: "You should be ashamed for racist comments like THAT!WOW... Clay, you're better than that...I hope."

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Clay Aiken has gone all Randy Jackson on Rihanna.

In an interview last night with Andy Cohen, the former American Idol runner-up was asked about the state of pop music. Specifically: which current singer would NOT make it past the first round of the Fox competition?

"There's too many, I've stopped listening to them because they can't sing" Aiken replied, before ultimately coming down on Rihanna - who is NOT dating Ashton Kutcher, people! - because she has "some pitch problems."

Watch the exchange for yourself and then respond below:

How do you feel about Aiken's critique?

 

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Former American Idol star Clay Aiken is headed to the boardroom.

The singer will be competing, wheeling and dealing on the new season of Donald Trump's series The Celebrity Apprentice, an inside source confirms.

The Real Housewives of New Jersey star Teresa Giudice is also reportedly going to be a contestant this season, as is usually-naked singer Aubrey O'Day.

C. Aiken

Reports say '80s pop singer Debbie Gibson is on board as well.

With over five million albums sold career, Clay Aiken trails only Carrie Underwood, Kelly Clarkson and Chris Daughtry among American Idol alumni.

Celebrity Apprentice champs included Piers Morgan, who ironically was kind of a non-celebrity until he won the thing, Joan Rivers and Bret Michaels.

[Photo: WENN.com]

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Well snagged, Clay Aiken.

According to multiple reports, the former American Idol finalist is now dating Jeff Walters, an underwear model who looks like this:

Clay Picture

Aiken and Walters have been spotted around Texas, the latter's home state, often over the last couple weeks. Witnesses saw them enter Pinkberry, spend time in Borders and catching a screening of Black Swan.

Clay also watched Jeff in a local production of The Rocky Horror Picture Show in Dallas last week.

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He's an American Idol finalist, a father, a former Broadway star and, now, a 32-year old man.

Indeed, Clay Aiken celebrates a birthday today, as Claymates around the world are likely sending their favorite artist a slew of best wishes as we type this. We encourage readers to do the same.

C. Aiken

After all, we're talking about one of the most humble, charitable artists around, one who spent the summer promoting the release of his fifth studio album and touring with Ruben Studdard. Aiken seems like a very nice guy and we hope he's having a terrific day!

Clay Aiken Biography

Parker Foster Aiken Say what you want about Clay Aiken, but the second season American Idol runner-up does have a huge fan base. People love this goofy,... More »
Born
Full Name
Clay Aiken

Clay Aiken Quotes

I cannot raise a child to lie or to hide things. I wasn't raised that way, and I'm not going to raise a child to do that.

Clay Aiken

I have no idea if he'll be gay or straight. It's not something I'll have anything to do with, or that he'll have anything to do with. It's already probably up inside the code there ... No matter what the situation you're in, if you're raised in a loving environment, that's the most important thing.

Clay Aiken [on his son]
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