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Former ‘American Idol’ contestant running for Congress

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After fighting his way to the top of a reality show competition, Clay Aiken is now setting his sights much higher.

Aiken, who was the runner-up on ‘American Idol,’ announced that he will run for Congress in North Carolina.

In a campaign video released Wednesday morning, Aiken focused on his work as a special education teacher and spoke of overcoming childhood poverty to realize his dreams.

He criticized Congresswoman Renee Elmers, who voted for the government shutdown last fall.

Aiken said, “More families are struggling today than at any time in our history. And here in North Carolina, we’ve suffered more than our share of pain.”

The 35-year-old singer and special education teacher faces a tough road ahead.

Elmers won re-election in 2012 by a 14 point margin.