Clay Aiken Bests Renee Ellmers in Second Quarter Fundraising (Updated)

Aiken is running for Congress as a Democrat. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 12:20 p.m. | "American Idol" runner-up Clay Aiken announced raising $450,000 from April through June for his bid in North Carolina's 2nd District — more than his Republican opponent, GOP Rep. Renee Ellmers.  

The Democrat, who faces an uphill climb to defeat Ellmers and has not yet reported his second-quarter fundraising to the Federal Election Commission, did not release his cash-on-hand total as of June 30. But that haul is a sharp increase from what he raised in the first three months of the year. Aiken had just $74,000 in cash on hand as of April 16, a few weeks before the state's May 6 primary.  

At that point, Aiken was locked in a competitive Democratic primary with former North Carolina Commerce Secretary Keith Crisco, who died one week after the primary after falling outside his home.  

Aiken is the Democratic nominee facing GOP Rep. Renee Ellmers in this heavily Republican district, which winds its way from Asheboro down to Fayetteville and then up to the suburbs of Raleigh.  

Ellmers raised $396,000 in the second quarter , including numbers from her pre-primary report, which covered April 1-16. She reported $405,000 in the bank as of June 30.  

Mitt Romney carried the 2nd District with 58 percent in 2012, making it a tough district for a Democrat to be competitive. The race is rated Safe Republican by Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call.