Eight candidates are running in the Democratic primary election for North Carolina’s 4th Congressional District on May 17, 2022. Incumbent Rep. David Price (D)—first elected in 1986, defeated in 1994, and re-elected in 1996—is not seeking re-election. This is the first time the 4th District has been open since 1972.
Media attention has focused on three candidates: Clay Aiken, Nida Allam, and Valerie Foushee. The Assembly‘s Michael Graff described the three as “Aiken, the former American Idol contestant who says he wants to become the South’s first gay congressman,” “Allam, a 28-year-old Muslim and rising star who’s spent most of her life in the Triangle,” and “Foushee, who worked with the Chapel Hill police department for years and has a lot of support among older Black Democrats in Durham.”
Aiken is a co-chair of the National Inclusion Project, an organization that provides opportunities for children with disabilities, which he co-founded in 2003, the same year he placed second in the American Idol singing competition. Aiken highlighted his national recognizability, saying he would “continue to use his platform to be a powerful, progressive voice for voting rights, free health care, and a woman’s right to choose.” Aiken ran in the 2nd District in 2014, winning the Democratic primary and losing to incumbent Rep. Renee Ellmers (R) 59-41% in the general election.
Allam is a member of the Durham County Board of Commissioners. Upon her election to the board in 2020, she became the first Muslim woman elected to office in North Carolina. Allam said that she “was the first candidate in this race to stand up for policies like Medicare for All and a Green New Deal,” and highlighted endorsements from national figures like U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.). Allam was a policy director on U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I-Vt.) 2016 presidential campaign and a vice-chair with the North Carolina Democratic Party from 2017 to 2021.
Foushee is a member of the state Senate, to which she was first appointed in 2013 after serving in the state House. Before that, she served on the Orange County Board of Commissioners from 2004 to 2010 and had been a member of the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools Board of Education. Foushee emphasized her electoral experience, saying “she has stood up to radical Republicans when they have attacked a woman’s right to choose, targeted our immigrant communities, and attempted to strip North Carolinians of their voting rights.”
Crystal Cavalier, Matt Grooms, Stephen J. Valentine, Ashley Ward, and Richard Watkins are also running in the primary.
Following redistricting, the 4th District was drawn outside of Raleigh, including portions of the state’s Research Triangle, a region bounded by three major universities: North Carolina State University, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and Duke University. The latter two are located in the district. As of 2022, the district had the largest percentage of voters between the ages of 18 and 29 (27%) and the largest percentage with a bachelor’s degree (52%) in North Carolina.
If no candidate receives at least 30% of the vote in the primary, the top two vote-getters will advance to a July 26 runoff.