The singer, who finished second on 2003's American Idol and had previously been scoping out a run, announced Wednesday that he was officially running for Congress in North Carolina, CNN reports.
"If you only know the part of my story that begins with a golden ticket," Aiken says in a campaign video on his Clay for North Carolina website, "you might wonder what qualifies me to run."
In the highly personal video, the Raleigh native, 35, describes a childhood filled with domestic violence, poverty and a protective mother who shaped his life.
"I was 1 year old," says Aiken, standing in the doorway of a small home, "and my mother knocked on that door with only a diaper bag, the clothes on our back and me in her arms."
Aiken describes how he and his mother stayed with a friend on the living room floor in order to "escape from my father … a violent man who would get drunk and angry. I saw later, when I was older, pictures of her bruised face and blackened eyes in police photographs."
Aiken, whose mother distracted him with music, said it was those early experiences that made him want to become a special education teacher and a voice for the powerless, and now a member of Congress.
The singer-turned-politician hopes to bridge the political divide in Washington for the people of North Carolina.
"For most Americans, there are no golden tickets," Aiken says. "At least not like the kind you see on TV. More families are struggling today than at any time in our history. And here in North Carolina, we've suffered more than our share of pain."
Aiken is seeking the Democratic nomination to challenge Republican Rep. Renee Ellmers in North Carolina's highly Republican second congressional district located in the central and eastern parts of North Carolina.