Speed Reads

2014 Watch

Are you ready for Rep. Clay Aiken? North Carolina might be.


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.