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April through June 2014

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newsandobserver.com

Clay Aiken Answers Girls' Questions at Saint Mary's School in Raleigh

Clay Aiken answers girls’ questions at Saint Mary’s School in Raleigh

BY CRAIG JARVIS

cjarvis@newsobserver.comMay 9, 2014 Updated 1 hour ago

1bYZbN.AuHi.156.jpeg1bYZCg.AuHi.156.jpeg

RALEIGH — Clay Aiken on Friday compared his current situation – waiting for votes to be counted to see whether he’s the 2nd Congressional District’s Democratic candidate – to his days as a contestant on “American Idol.”

“I’ve put myself in several situations on national TV where I had to wait for some results,” Aiken told a group of students in Raleigh. “Worrying about how that could turn out never changes it, amazingly. So I don’t stress out too much.”

Aiken made the analogy during a noncampaign stop at Saint Mary’s School in Raleigh, where about 100 students peppered him with questions at the event, which was sponsored by the campus Young Democrats and Young Republicans.

His visit, which had been scheduled for some time, was a natural for the former special education teacher and camp counselor. He had the students laughing, clapping and clamoring for photographs. Too bad most of them can’t vote.

To the student who asked him how it felt to wait for the outcome of the election, Aiken added: “Mathematically, we’ve run the numbers and we feel pretty confident. If I were in the same position as the person who I am running against, I would probably be doing the same thing, which would be wanting to see every single vote count.”

Aiken’s campaign – like that of his opponent in the Democratic congressional primary, Keith Crisco – has been in suspended animation since Tuesday night. Aiken leads Crisco in the contest to be the Democratic challenger facing U.S. Rep. Renee Ellmers.

But his 369-vote lead is not yet the final word: Some absentee and provisional ballots haven’t been counted, and if the margin narrows enough, Crisco could call for a recount.

Aiken presented a restrained optimism at Friday’s event, his first public appearance since thanking his supporters on election night.

Only a smattering of the students at the school for girls in grades nine through 12 are old enough to vote and, as Aiken pointed out, few of them are even old enough to remember him from his second-place finish on “American Idol” in 2003, which kicked off a successful recording and performing career.

Aiken said he didn’t think the votes could change enough to lead to a recount, but if it does, he’s confident it won’t change the outcome.

“Between now and then, I’m not losing any sleep,” he said.

The Democratic and Republican clubs prepared a number of questions ahead of time, and then opened it up to the student audience. Girls asked him:

• What is a day on the campaign trail like? (Unpredictable.)

• What motivated him to run? (Speaking up for the voiceless.)

• How did it feel to vote for himself? (Surreal.)

• Will he run for higher office? (No.)

• Does he take offense at the news media? (He’s “challenged” by them.)

Aiken congratulated the students for taking an interest in politics at a young age. He encouraged them to pay attention.

“There are things being done today in Raleigh and Washington and the capital of whatever state you’re from that will affect you,” he told them. “You need to be ready as soon as you turn 18.”

Jarvis: 919-829-4576; Twitter: @CraigJ_NandO

Read more here: http://www.newsobserver.com/2014/05/09/3849662/aiken-talks-politics-at-girls.html?sp=/99/102/105/#storylink=cpy

COUNTING, AND MAYBE RECOUNTING

  • Clay Aiken leads Keith Crisco by 369 votes in the Democratic primary in the 2nd Congressional District. Absentee and provisional ballots are still being counted. There are not enough ballots outstanding to change the outcome, but they could narrow the margin enough to allow Crisco to ask for a recount.
    A recount can be held if the difference between the candidates is no more than 1 percent of the total votes cast. Recounts rarely change the outcome of an election.
    The votes will be canvassed and certified on Tuesday.
    Staff writer Craig Jarvis

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wbtv.com

Democrat Crisco Trips, Dies in Fall at Home

Democrat Crisco trips, dies in fall at home

Posted: May 12, 2014 3:22 PM CDTUpdated: May 12, 2014 5:35 PM CDT

by Dane Huffman, WNCN News

RALEIGH, N.C. -

North Carolina Congressional candidate Keith Crisco, who was locked in a tight challenge with Clay Aiken for the Democratic nomination, died suddenly at his home on Monday, WNCN confirmed.

Veteran political consultant Brad Crone told WNCN political reporter Beau Minnick that Crisco was near the front door of his house when he tripped on a rug, fell backward and hit his head on bricks. Crone said Crisco had planned to make a business trip to Dallas and told him he planned to pull out of the race.

A woman at his company, Asheboro Elastics Corp. in Asheboro, confirmed that he died at his home Monday around 1 p.m., and said employees at the company were being told what had happened.

"It is true," she said. "But we don't have any details. They wanted his employees to know."

The news rocketed around North Carolina Monday afternoon, stunning those close to politics and those who knew Crisco in his long career.

"I am stunned and deeply saddened by Keith Crisco's death," Aiken said in a statement. "Keith came from humble beginnings. No matter how high he rose – to Harvard, to the White House and to the Governor’s Cabinet – he never forgot where he came from.

"He was a gentleman, a good and honorable man and an extraordinary public servant. I was honored to know him."

Crisco, a successful Asheboro businessman and later secretary of the North Carolina Department of Commerce, had faced Aiken in a tense battle for the Democratic nomination in the 2nd Congressional District.

Aiken was credited with 11,649 votes, Crisco 11,277 and Toni Morris of Fayetteville 5,599.

Crisco, 71, initially refused to concede the election, and the Board of Elections was scheduled to have a voter canvass on Tuesday. The State Board of Elections sent out a news release expressing that it was saddened to hear he died, but did not say what happens next in the election.

If the canvas shows Aiken had the most votes and at least a 40 percent margin, however, the point is moot and Aiken will face Ellmers.

Aiken said he would suspend all campaign activities "as we pray for [Crisco's] family and friends."

Crone said he had spoken with Crisco earlier Monday and Crisco planned to concede.

"At his instruction, I had called Gary Pearce to convey that Keith was going to concede the election tomorrow morning and would be calling Mr. Aiken to congratulate him," Crone wrote in an email.

"I have known Keith for nearly 30 years and consider him a good friend. He has done a great deal for his community and his state. I will miss his insights and his wry sense of humor and his keen mind for math and statistics."

Raised on a dairy farm near Aquadale, Crisco graduated from Pfeiffer University in Misenheimer, N.C., in 1964 and got his masters in business administration from Harvard in 1968.

He worked for Burlington Industries, then a textile giant, for years before becoming president of Stedman Elastics from 1978-86. From 1986, he became president of Asheboro Elastics Corp.

Crisco had been heavily involved in civic activities through-out his life, including a stint on the Asheboro City Council.

Gary Bartlett, former head of the State Board of Elections, said if Crisco were to have more votes than Aiken after the canvass,

they would declare a vacancy and the Democratic Party executive committee for District 2 would meet and pick the candidate. In that case, it could be Aiken.

STATEMENTS ON KEITH CRISCO'S PASSING

"I am stunned and deeply saddened by Keith Crisco’s death. Keith came from humble beginnings. No matter how high he rose – to Harvard, to the White House and to the Governor’s Cabinet – he never forgot where he came from.

"He was a gentleman, a good and honorable man and an extraordinary public servant. I was honored to know him.

"I am suspending all campaign activities as we pray for his family and friends."

-
Clay Aiken, Democratic challenger

---

"I am deeply saddened by this sudden and painful tragedy and wish God's blessings for Keith's family through the coming days. His kindness and dedication to his principles were models we should all strive toward, and he will be dearly missed. My thoughts and prayers are with Keith's family, friends and loved ones during this difficult time."

-
U.S. Rep. Renee Ellmers

---

"I am shocked and saddened by the sudden loss of Keith Crisco, and my thoughts and prayers go out to his wife, Jane, and his entire family, who have suffered a terrible loss. I had the distinct privilege of working with Keith for many years and I was honored to call him a friend. Keith was a savvy businessman, a passionate public servant and a champion for economic development, but more than that, he was kind. Keith’s inherent kindness was evident to everyone he met, and he dedicated his life to making North Carolina a better place to live for everyone. While he worked tirelessly to bring good jobs to our state, he stood up for education, for our seniors and the most vulnerable among us – always pushing to make North Carolina a little stronger and a little better. Our state is undoubtedly better and stronger because of Keith Crisco’s service."

-
U.S. Senator Kay Hagan

---

"My heart sank, like so many other people who admired Keith Crisco, when I learned of his sudden passing. While I was a mayor, and now as governor, Keith was a partner, collaborator and strong advocate for the state he loved. Although Keith was a Democrat and a Pfeiffer University graduate, and I went to Catawba and am a Republican, nothing could stop Keith Crisco from building a lasting friendship. North Carolina was blessed and is a better state because of his leadership."

-
North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory

---

"Keith was a great North Carolinian who always did what he believed was best for his county, his state and his country. Political parties and perception were never part of his decision-making

"I asked him to leave Asheboro Elastics to be Commerce Secretary during the worst economic times since the Great Depression. He accepted that responsibility without hesitation because he loved this state and wanted to help when times were hard. His efforts helped in attracting more than 120,000 jobs as he worked across our state in both rural and urban areas and around the world to bring new jobs, expand existing jobs and stabilize our economy

"Keith was one of North Carolina's giants who made a real difference everyday he lived. He was active in local issues and loved The Lord. His wife Jane and their wonderful family were central to his life."_ Former North Carolina Gov. Bev Perdue

----

"I'm deeply saddened to hear of the passing of former Commerce Secretary Keith Crisco. Secretary Crisco was a good man who was committed to doing all he could to improve job opportunities for the people of this state. I consider it a privilege to have worked with him, and my thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends."

-
Senate leader Phil Berger

---

"My deepest condolences go out to the Crisco family on the passing of one of our state’s most widely-respected public officials, Keith Crisco. I was honored to work with him on many issues that positively impacted the people of North Carolina, and I was struck by his professionalism and dedication to the citizens he served. He never wavered in his determination to improve the state he was so proud to call home. We will keep his family in our thoughts and prayers during this difficult time."

-
N.C. Speaker of the House Thom Tillis

---

"I got to know Secretary Crisco when Governor Perdue appointed him to be her Secretary of Commerce. Keith was a brilliant problem solver who liked to make good, solid public policy. He would have made a great Congressman and I know he felt strongly that the Second Congressional District needed new leadership in Washington. The Democratic family and North Carolina has lost a strong leader and our condolences go out to the Crisco family and community."

-
Democratic Party Chairman Randy Voller

---

"We are incredibly shocked and saddened to hear about Keith Crisco’s sudden passing. Keith was an accomplished businessman and public servant with a sterling reputation and a tremendous amount of respect from North Carolinians across the partisan spectrum. Keith, like my father, served the state as Commerce Secretary with dignity and humility, and also like my father, passed away well before his time. Keith’s family is in our thoughts and prayers during this very difficult time."

-
Claude Pope, chair, North Carolina Republican Party

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talkingaboutpolitics.com

Keith Crisco

Keith Crisco

Gary Pearce posted on May 13, 2014 08:33

We were reviewing the Board of Elections’ schedule and making plans for the fall campaign. Then Brad Crone called to say Keith Crisco would concede this morning. Then we were sent reeling by the shock of Keith’s death.

Suddenly, campaigns, vote counts and elections-board canvasses seemed not so important.

I remembered meeting with Keith in late January, just after I began working with Clay Aiken. At Keith’s invitation, he and I met after work at a North Hills restaurant. He had hot tea, and I had a Diet Coke.

Keith was tall and distinguished-looking. He wore a dark business suit, black cowboy boots and a wide-brimmed white hat. He looked like a man equally at home on a farm, on a factory floor or in a boardroom.

It was an open, pleasant conversation about the upcoming race. No bluster or tough talk. We agreed that, whatever happened in the primary, we would work together in the fall.

In politics and in life, you make plans and you act as if you’re in control. Then life reminds you that you’re not in control.

Not one of us is guaranteed one more day, or even one more hour.

In the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 6:34), Jesus said, “Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.”

Amen.

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newsoberserver.com

Aiken Victory Confirmed as More Details on Crisco's Death Emerge

Aiken victory confirmed as more details on Crisco’s death emerge

BY CRAIG JARVIS

cjarvis@newsobserver.comMay 13, 2014 Updated 2 hours ago

  • dLono.AuHi.156.jpeg
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  • 2ND CONGRESSIONAL RESULTS
    Clay Aiken: 11,678 – 40.86%
    Keith Crisco: 11,288 – 39.49%
    Toni Morris: 5,616 – 19.65%

RALEIGH — In a formality overshadowed by the death of his opponent the previous day, a final count of votes on Tuesday confirmed that Clay Aiken will be the Democratic nominee running against Republican Rep. Renee Ellmers for Congress.

The canvassing of votes – a tally of Election Day plus absentee and provisional ballots in nine counties – came the day after runner-up Keith Crisco died in a fall at his home in Asheboro. The cause of his death has not been determined yet, but details of the accident emerged Tuesday.

Crisco, 71, was returning home from running errands shortly before 1 p.m. Monday and opened a door to go inside when his wife heard him call out, according to a police report. She told police she found him lying in the doorway.

An emergency medical services crew called to the home saw that he was not breathing and they were unable to revive him. EMS notified police that Crisco was dead when they arrived, and an officer went to the house and took a report.

The state Office of Medical Examiner has taken jurisdiction of the case. State law requires medical examiners be notified when it appears someone has died from an accident or violent injury.

The medical examiner determines whether an autopsy is warranted. That hasn’t been decided yet in Crisco’s case, said a spokeswoman with the state Department of Health and Human Services.

Deaths involving the elderly and that happen suddenly or without a well-documented illness are considered case by case, according to the state medical examiner guidelines.

Funeral services for Crisco will be held at 2 p.m. Friday at the First United Methodist Church in Asheboro. The family will receive friends on Thursday evening at Pugh Funeral Home.

Crisco’s death made the vote canvassing seem irrelevant. But he had already decided to concede the race to Aiken, and had been planning to do so Tuesday morning said his longtime friend and political strategist Brad Crone.

And indeed when total votes were counted, Aiken gained 21 votes over Crisco giving him a 390 vote victory. He received 40.86 percent of the vote.

The outcome wasn’t a surprise, as there weren’t enough outstanding ballots to knock Aiken out of first place.

State elections officials said the situation was highly unusual. The law is clear on what happens if a candidate dies between filing for office and the primary election; and it covers what happens if a candidate dies after the primary but before the general election.

But this narrow area where the deceased candidate was in between is something state law doesn’t directly address. The law requires the runner-up to call for a recount if the vote difference is no more than 1 percent of the total vote or if total is under 40 percent, which would not have been possible in this case.

The state Board of Elections will certify the results of the election on May 22.

Aiken’s staff said Tuesday that he would not have a comment on the election results because he has suspended all campaign activities in observance of Crisco’s death.

Jarvis: 919-829-4576; Twitter: @CraigJ_NandO

Read more here: http://www.newsobserver.com/2014/05/13/3858209/aiken-maintains-lead-is-official.html?sp=/99/100/&ihp=

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usatoday.com (among many others)

Clay Aiken: Celebrity Status is "Mountain to Climb" in Congress Race

Clay Aiken: Celebrity status is 'mountain to climb' in Congress race

By Catalina Camia 11 hours ago

Democrat Clay Aiken says his celebrity from American Idol is a double-edged sword as he runs for Congress in North Carolina.

“We have to get people to see me in a different light,” Aiken said Tuesday in an interview with NBC’s Today show, explaining how his fame from the TV show is both a blessing and a curse.

The former American Idol runner-up is back to campaigning, after hitting the “pause” button following the death of Democratic rival Keith Crisco. Crisco, a former North Carolina Commerce secretary who was trailing Aiken after primary voting, died the day before final election results in North Carolina’s 2nd District were reported.

When he travels the district, Aiken said he doesn’t hear as much about partisan politics from the people he meets. He’s also hoping a strong contingent of independent voters will help him in November.

Aiken acknowledged he has an uphill fight in the general election against GOP Rep. Renee Ellmers, in a district that Mitt Romney easily won in the 2012 presidential race and John McCain carried in 2008. Ellmers has taken a swipe at Aiken, saying he was “bored” with the status of his entertaining career and that’s why he’s running.

“I’m not naive to that fact that this is a challenge that I have to overcome,” Aiken said about proving himself as a candidate. “It’s a mountain to climb but we’ve had quite a bit of success thus far in the past three months climbing it.”

Asked whether American Idol or politics is harder, Aiken didn’t miss a beat with his response: “Politics.”

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cnn.com

Aiken: "Buck Has to Stop' with Obama on VA

Aiken: 'Buck has to stop' with Obama on VA

Posted by CNN's Dana Davidsen

(CNN) – American Idol star turned congressional nominee Clay Aiken called the Department of Veterans Affairs "unwieldy," and said President Barack Obama is ultimately responsible for holding the VA accountable.

Asked by CNN's Brooke Baldwin on Wednesday whether the President should take a more hands-on approach to dealing the growing controversy, Aiken said, "I certainly think the President is responsible for it at the end of the day."

"He is the commander in chief of the military. He is the executive, so the buck has to stop with him," he said.

Aiken's comments come on the heels of Obama's first public statement Wednesday on the flare up over fraudulent record-keeping that covered up excessive and sometimes deadly waiting times for veterans at some VA facilities.

Aiken noted that his brother is a veteran and acknowledged the large military population in his North Carolina district.

"I think people should all be very frustrated with the disorganization, to put it lightly, of the VA. The VA is an unwieldy organization, and I think that some of the mismanagement it's had over the past several years has started showing itself," he said.

The number of VA facilities under investigation has expanded to 26, the agency's Office of Inspector General said Tuesday. Aiken said he wouldn't be surprised if the issues were even more wide-spread.

Aiken's rise to Democratic nominee, challenging two-term Rep. Renee Ellmers in North Carolina's 2nd Congressional District, has been anything but conventional.

Last week, Aiken's primary opponent died on that same day he was expected to concede the race. Aiken told CNN he was speechless when he heard the news. His campaign temporarily suspended activities.

Looking forward to November, Aiken is maintaining his optimism against long odds in a heavily Republican district, insisting that his constituents aren't focused on politics.

Despite his star power, the 2003 "American Idol" runner-up will face an uphill battle in the reliably conservative district, which is located in the central part of the state, against Ellmers.

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talkingaboutpolitics.com

A Sign?

A Sign?

Gary Pearce posted on June 11, 2014 12:43

"This is a miracle from God that just happened." - David Brat, who rocked the political world Tuesday by upsetting Eric Cantor in a Virginia Republican primary.

Well, that’s certainly one explanation. A more earthly one came from former Representative Thomas M. Davis III, another Virginia Republican: “There are some very angry people upset with the status quo, and Eric became part of that.”

Washington will bloviate all day today about what happened, why and what it means. But let’s look at what it means right here in our backyard, namely for Rep. (Just Walk Away) Renee Ellmers. She’s one Republican incumbent in North Carolina who faces just the kind of outsider challenge that toppled Cantor.

Yes, hers is in a general election, from special ed teacher/singer/foundation founder/UNICEF ambassador Clay Aiken. But the lesson holds.

This is a classic case of an outsider challenging the status quo. You’ll remember, a few years back, when Ellmers won election as an outsider. Then she crawled inside the Washington woodwork and made herself quite comfortable, standing by John (of Orange) Boehner on camera and voting to shut down the government and cut veterans’ health care, while complaining she needed her paycheck.

So when you hear the Political Wise Men and Women intoning that Ellmers is safe in a Republican-drawn, Republican-leaning district, remember how sure that crowd was that Cantor would win big.

A side note here: Uber-blogger Thomas Mills told me not long ago that he is skeptical of primary polls. It’s hard to predict who will vote, he said. The same thing could be true in this year’s off-year elections, especially considering the conflicting currents of public anger from right, left and middle.

Bottom line: Expect the unexpected. And as I’ve said before, don’t underestimate Clay Aiken.

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newsobserver.com

Clay Aiken Will Sing for "Diamond" Donors

Clay Aiken will sing for ‘diamond’ donors

Posted by John Frank on June 18, 2014

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Clay Aiken is tapping his “American Idol” fan base to raise money for his congressional campaign, offering a personally recorded song to the top donors.

The Democrat’s campaign recently sent an email to 1,000 fans who had already contributed to the campaign asking them to join the CA4NC Circle at one of four levels: Loyalty, Gold, Platinum and Diamond.

“You’ve been with Clay from the very beginning and have supported him through every minute of the last 11 years,” wrote Nick Leisey, a longtime Aiken friend who recently joined the campaign as finance director. “Your enthusiasm and support continues to be crucial, this time in helping him claim the seat in NC’s 2nd District.”

The Diamond level is reserved for those who give $5,200, the maximum allowed contribution to the campaign. The personalized recording comes on an autographed CD with a handwritten note from Aiken, who finished runner-up on the reality TV show in 2003.

The lower-level donors are entered into a raffle to win their own recording.

The top two levels, Diamond and Platinum ($2,600 minimum donation), get the most perks. Among them: a personalized membership card, a photo with Aiken in a signed “Clay for NC” frame, tickets to an election night party and other campaign events, autographed campaign merchandise and entry into a raffle to spend a day on the trail with the candidate.

It also include entry to “private after-hours meet ’n greets” after fundraisers in Boston, Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, Miami and Washington.

The minimum donations to join the circle at the Loyalty level begin at less than $10 and include entry into weekly raffles for Aiken-related prizes.

“We want to give people who feel invested in Clay’s career for the last decade a way to feel more invested in the campaign,” said campaign spokeswoman Tucker Middleton.

The campaign listed all the details of the program on a campaign website that went offline Tuesday after The News & Observer asked about it. Middleton said it went offline for maintenance and “To clarify some language.”

Aiken narrowly won the Democratic primary in May to challenge Republican incumbent Rep. Renee Ellmers in a district that favors GOP candidates.

Read more here: http://www.newsobserver.com/2014/06/18/3947044/clay-aiken-will-sing-for-diamond.html?sp=/99/102/105/#storylink=

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June 24

sanfordherald.com

Aiken Outlines Congressional Aspirations

Aiken outlines Congressional aspirations

Jun. 24, 2014 @ 06:38 PM

Will Doran

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Wesley Beeson | The Sanford Herald

Clay Aiken, the Democratic candidate for the 2nd North Carolina Congressional District, stopped in Sanford Tuesday to meet with local officials.

SANFORD —

Congressional candidate Clay Aiken stopped by Sanford on Tuesday, meeting with Mayor Chet Mann and Democratic Party volunteers and having lunch at the Fairview Dairy Bar.

Aiken has two siblings, Jeff and Amy Parker, who graduated from Lee Senior High School in the late '80s and early '90s, although Aiken himself grew up in Raleigh. He had a short career in special education, both as an assistant to an autistic child and a substitute teacher for special education classes, before finding fame through the reality television show "American Idol."

In an interview Tuesday, Aiken laid out several goals he said he'd like to pursue if elected to represent this area in the U.S. House of Representatives. He's the Democratic challenger to incumbent Renee Ellmers (R-N.C.) for the state's Second Congressional District, a heavily Republican area that stretches from High Point and Cary down toward the outskirts of Fayetteville.

Aiken said education is the issue nearest and dearest to his heart, and he'd like to see changes at both the state and federal levels.

Aiken said he is opposed to efforts to standardize education through testing and performance-based pay tied to test results, and that he would like to see a federal version of the Teaching Fellows program that North Carolina recently discontinued.

Wading into the debate on Common Core, he said he likes having the idea of similar curricula across the nation, so children who move to a new state don't face too much disruption. But he said he wouldn't support requiring states uncomfortable with Common Core — like North Carolina — to stick with it.

"I don't think it's the federal government's role to force states to decide what they teach," Aiken said.

That's in line with his stance on the role of individual teachers, whom he said should have more freedom over their lesson plans.

"The best teachers I had growing up were allowed to be creative in the classroom," Aiken said. "But now we require them to teach to a test."

He said he differs with the Obama administration in that, but he won't change his mind for political expediency. Blindly following the official party line, Aiken said, is what has created the current Washington culture, "where you only succeed by making the other side look bad."

He added: "Why does everyone in the country understand that except the 535 people in Congress?"

Although Aiken never mentioned Ellmers by name, he said anyone who supported sequestration should be ashamed — and Ellmers is known for being a vocal supporter — and that he, on the other hand, would support efforts to reverse the cuts.

Aiken also said a good representative should be on the ground in North Carolina as often as possible, instead of staying in Washington and meeting with donors and lobbyists.

"The only people who should be telling you how to vote are the people you represent," Aiken said.

Both Aiken and Ellmers can find common ground, though, by opposing plans to cut the 440th Airlift Wing at Fort Bragg. Ellmers has tried several political maneuvers to stop the military's request to scuttle the unit and affect its 1,400 employees who live in the area. And Aiken said if elected, he would also fight for the unit, which is in charge of Fort Bragg's only C-130 planes.

Another topic Aiken said he wants to take on is the student loan system. Most loans come, he said, with an interest rate that's higher than the rate for a mortgage or a loan to buy a car. Such high rates, Aiken said, harm the economy by discouraging risk-taking and innovation because someone who's 22 and already tens of thousands of dollars in debt isn't likely going to try to become an entrepreneur.

Aiken had several other politically progressive ideas for boosting the economy, suggesting more investment in education and safety net programs.

He said he is ashamed that North Carolina did away with the Teaching Fellows program that paid the college tuition of anyone who worked as a teacher after graduating. He said he'd support a federal version of the program, though, which would take the further step of requiring people to teach in the same school district they attended. That would help places like Lee County, he said, stop some of the exodus of smart young people to more urban areas where they attend college and then stay for a career.

He also said he would support efforts to help low-income families, including raising the minimum wage or reforming the Earned Income Tax Credit program, which supports low-income working families. Aiken said he favors expanding the program and extending benefits to people without children. He said it incentivizes work over unemployment by only aiding people who have an income.

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June 25

leedemocrats.net

Clay Aiken Headlines LCDP Rally!

Clay Aiken headlines LCDP rally!

Jun 25 2014

Clay%20043.JPG

Congressional candidate Clay Aiken spent yesterday in Sanford, meeting city officials, voters, and the many Lee County residents who still hadn't gotten their "selfie with Clay"! He went to lunch at the Dairy Bar, where he spoke with over 75 voters about the issues important to them in the midterm election. And, he finished the day by headlining the Lee County Democratic Party's "Clay Day" rally!

Clay spoke to a standing-room only crowd of over 75 Lee County residents. Most were Democrats, but there were Unaffilaited voters there, as well. The event had some competition from a beach music band playing at the Temple, but Clay, joking that, "hey, I can sing, too," kept the crowd engaged and excited! Clay talked about education, bringing jobs to the district, and veteran's issues. He spoke about the need for a congressional representative who knows the district's voters, and would be willing to meet with them.

And, he laid down a challenge. Apparently, WRAL has been trying to line up a forum with both Clay and his opponent, but Renee Ellmers has, so far, not responded. Local newspaper The Sanford Herald also has a forum every year, but it is still unclear whether "Representative" Ellmers will attend.

"Bill O'Reilly can moderate the thing, if he wants," said Clay. "I am ready, right here in Sanford, to talk about the issues and talk about [Ellmers'] record." Sounds like a challenge to us!

Other highlights of the meeting included recognition of all of our great candidates, and appeals for the two things every volunteer organization needs: volunteers and money. To volunteer for or contribute to the Lee County Democratic Party, please click the "Volunteer" or "Contribute" menus right here on www.leedemocrats.net.

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