RALEIGH, N.C. (Legal Newsline) - With early voting already underway, musician and Congress hopeful Clay Aiken will soon find out if he will once again be a runner-up or the featured star this time around.

On Feb. 27, Aiken, the 2003 "American Idol" runner up, filed to run for U.S. Congress in North Carolina's 2nd District, hoping to unseat the Republican incumbent, Rep. Renee Ellmers.

But before he can take on Ellmers directly, Aiken will have to claim the Democratic nomination on May 6 by beating out former Commerce Secretary Keith Crisco.

And if Aiken wants to become America's next congressman, he'll first have to overcome his opponent's attacks.

On Tuesday, Crisco released a television ad criticizing Aiken for missing meetings during his time spent on the Presidential Commission for People With Intellectual Disabilities.

"Clay Aiken says helping children with special needs is one of his top priorities, but when the president appointed Clay Aiken to the Presidential Commission for People With Intellectual Disabilities," the video states.

Since the ad's release, Aiken has called upon his supporters for donations to help counter-attack, with his latest plea coming in the form of a Tuesday tweet asking for donations to help him get across the finish line.

In the first quarter of the 2014 election cycle, Aiken raised around a quarter-million in campaign contributions, according to the Federal Election Commission.

His leading primary opponent, Crisco has netted nearly $700,000 in campaign contributions so far - giving him the financial edge over the pop star.

In an April 15 interview with Roll Call, Aiken said an internal poll shows he has a "substantial" lead over Crisco and fellow Democratic hopeful Toni Morris.

If Aiken does capture the nomination next week, greater challenges await, like capturing the votes of a GOP-leaning district that saw 57 percent of its constituents vote for Mitt Romney in the 2012 presidential election.

Reach David Yates at elections@legalnewsline.com

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