With more than 99 percent of the vote counted from Tuesday's primary elections in North Carolina, singer Clay Aiken holds a 369-vote lead over a Democratic rival who outspent him three-to-one and pounded him with attack ads. Aiken and Keith Crisco, a wealthy, moderate former state commerce secretary, are vying to compete against two-term incumbent Rep. Renee Ellmers (R) in a conservative, Fayetteville-centered district that gave Mitt Romney 58 percent of its vote in 2012.
So if Aiken, 35, beats Crisco, 71, he has a steep climb to the U.S. House. But hardly an impossible one. Aiken, who rose to fame in American Idol's heyday, is a natural campaigner, reports The Charlotte News & Observer, and "his ability to articulate issues quickly proved his candidacy wasn’t a whim by an entertainer looking for something interesting to do." Besides, not only have celebrities done pretty well in politics — Al Franken, Fred Thompson, and Ronald Reagan, to name a few — but the reality TV era already has its own (tiny) congressional caucus: Rep. Sean Duffy (R-Wis.), alumnus of MTV's Real World and Road Rules.