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The number floated up off the page and hung shimmering in the air in front of my eyes: 580,834.
Surprised, and curious, I clicked on the computer, then stared at another number that looked dreary in comparison: 345.
580,834:  The number of people who have watched Clay Aiken’s video since he announced for Congress.
345:  The number of people who have watched Congresswoman Renee Ellmers’ last video.
Of course, Republicans are reeling in the face of this phenomenon.
How many, one said to me, of those 580,834 people live in the 2nd District? Those are people who read the Hollywood Reporter – not the News and Observer.
That’s fine – but, politically, that’s not the end of the story.  
What if a fraction (1%) of those 580,834 people send Clay Aiken a contribution of $100 – that’s $580,834?
When a celebrity abandons fame and fortune to run for political office the normal rule book flies out the window.  For example:   
38 years ago, next month, Ronald Reagan (an underdog running against Gerald Ford) flew into Greensboro, climbed onto a bus and for two weeks before the Republican Primary rolled through the small towns and rolling foothills of the Piedmont.  And each time that bus stopped in town squares, farmers and housewives and mill workers turned out in droves not to hear a candidate for President but to see the first movie star ever to roll into Wilkesboro or Morganton or Gastonia.  And an hour later, after Reagan finished speaking and he climbed back onto the bus, they’d been converted.
Of course, today a fellow doesn’t have to roll through town squares – we’ve invented this little widget they didn’t have back in 1976 called the Internet with little add-ons like YouTube so people can sit at home and watch videos. 
The Internet’s also the greatest rumor mill ever invented and the other day the gossip was flying with people claiming The National Enquirer’s in Raleigh doing a expose on Aiken. There’s a video of Aiken in a Kasbah.  In a bordello.  In a gay-chat room.  Aiken’s broke.  His records don’t sell.  He’s a washed up singer running for Congress.
Four years ago, Democratic Congressman Bob Etheridge handed Renee Ellmers a victory in a district a Democrat should have won. Then the State House handed her a district where a Republican should win. But now, she’s landed in a different world where the old rules no longer apply – which doesn’t mean she will lose but does bring a litany of earthshaking new realities.
This isn’t going to be a normal political race.  Old-standards – like the advantages of incumbency – no longer hold.  Just consider one change:  Clay Aiken is going to receive more press attention and scrutiny than any Congressional candidate ever in North Carolina. And so will Renee Ellmers.  No stone will be left unturned. 
580, 834 means this race is going to be on the front page of the newspaper – day after day.

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# dap916
Friday, February 21, 2014 3:58 PM
That's a good synopsis of what's going on in the 2nd, Carter. I can add what you can't because I'm just a minion here(unlike you) and even if someone trashes me by making me out to be an insensitive and homophobic cad, it won't hurt my bottom line like it would yours.

With all of the media attention, Clay will no doubt get a bunch of "press time". But, aside from what you're saying about his popularity and star status and the Internet and so forth, he's still a relative unknown in politics and he's still gay.

I don't care what any political prognosticator says about this race, that's going to play into it in a big way because after all, this is North Carolina (not California) and it's still the 2nd district of North Carolina (redrawn, of course).

If Aiken does become Ellmers' opponent, he's got a tough road to hoe. If I was a betting man, I'd get to Vegas and bet more than I should on Ellmers in this one.
# Reaganite
Friday, February 21, 2014 8:06 PM
I hate to tell you, Carter, but when you have a ''Republican'' who brownnoses Boehner instead of voting conservative and who is a cheerleader for amnesty for illegal aliens, then Republican voters are just not going to be very exited about her.
# Choo
Sunday, February 23, 2014 1:20 PM
The hand has been exposed. The Clay Aiken run has given away the national media's game plan. To date the national media has taken over all national elections and they own them. As I have always seen it they didn't have a way to get their socialist hands on the state wide elections, well here is the template. You bring in a national celebrity and that gives the national media an open door. Clay Aiken will get what is equal to about one thousand million dollars of free media. You couldn't beat him with god. The national media will have an open door to run vote for Clay pieces everyday. No it won't be commercials, it will be Wolf Blitz , and all the other socialist on the national media talking about how the homophobes in North Carolina are trying to lynch this kid. By the time they are through I will feel sorry for Clay. He will be the kid at school that tried to stand up to the bullies and was beaten up everyday. Don't worry about how he will vote on Health care, or the economy, or national defense, none of that really matters. He is for the little guy, and how many of us don't think we are the little guy. No one in America has the money to match what the national media can do for a candidate. Nationalize the local elections, only the key ones. Clay may be the test case, and North Carolina the lab.

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