Raleigh, N.C. — With the primary election less than two months away, the 2nd Congressional District Democratic contest is beginning to heat up.
Former state Commerce Secretary Keith Crisco and former "American Idol" star Clay Aiken are the best-known Democrats vying for a spot on the ballot in November. Fayetteville counselor Toni Morris is also on the Democratic slate.
Ellmers also faces a primary challenger from GOP hopeful Frank Roche in May.
On Sunday, political consultant Brad Crone sent an email attacking Aiken for missing all eight meetings during his time on the Presidential Commission for People with Intellectual Disabilities. Aiken was appointed to the commission by President George W. Bush in September 2006 and ended his tenure in May 2008.
“Clay Aiken says one of his top priorities is serving the needs of disadvantaged children. Yet when the President of the United States appointed Clay to a Presidential Commission for People with Intellectual Disabilities – Clay Aiken didn’t show up,” Crone wrote. “If Clay Aiken won’t attend meetings for a Presidential Commission serving the needs of disadvantaged children – do you think he will show up for the Second Congressional District?”
Crone said he’s not working for Crisco’s campaign but is a longtime friend and a campaign donor, even though he doesn’t live in the 2nd District.
Aiken spokeswoman Tucker Middleton replied that Aiken was appointed to the commission “because of his work with the National Inclusion Project and his experience as an educator in special education classes at Brentwood Elementary School in Raleigh.
“Because of his professional schedule and his obligations with UNICEF, he was not able to attend many of the committee's meetings. But he was honored to help bring visibility to its important work and to the needs of children with disabilities,” Middleton responded.
On Tuesday, the Crisco campaign announced its first television ad buy in the race.
The spot will run through the coming week on broadcast stations in the Triangle, which makes up the bulk of the district, and on cable in the Triad. Crisco spokesman Aaron Fiedler says the buy is “in the tens of thousands of dollars.”
The ad, titled “Jobs,” is aimed at boosting Crisco’s name recognition – an area where Aiken obviously has an edge – and touts his work at Commerce under the administration of former Gov. Beverly Perdue.
The ad opens with a woman telling the camera, “He doesn't just talk about creating jobs – he’s done it.” Another woman chimes in, “He started a local textile company that now employs nearly 200 people.”
“The Second District wants a representative with real world job creation experience and the ability to hit the ground running on day one,” Crisco is quoted in a news release announcing the ad buy.
Middleton said the Aiken campaign doesn't yet have an ad buy scheduled. "We're really focusing on our ground game," she said, "signing up volunteers and going to events."