Former “American Idol” star and singer Clay Aiken announced his candidacy for Congress on Wednesday.  If he wins the Democratic primary, he’ll be challenging Rep. Renee Ellmers (R-N.C.), who’s held the seat since 2010.

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In a video posted online Wednesday, Aiken discusses his success in the music industry and humanitarian work. He also sharply criticizes Ellmers’ voting record during the budget battle that led to a partial government shutdown.

He highlights his working class roots, explaining how his mother protected him by distracting him with music, and the long nights she spent working at Sears to support their family.

Of course he nods to his former American Idol days, at one point in the clip saying:

“For most Americans, there are no golden tickets—at least not like the kind you see on TV.”

Aiken has also been involved with UNICEF since 2004 when he was appointed a U.S. Fund for UNICEF National Ambassador with a focus on ensuring children have access to education. UNICEF has sent Aiken to Uganda, Afghanistan, Somalia and Kenya.