Dispatches from the campaign trail, February 5, 2014

• Clay’s in: Raleigh native and “American Idol” runner-up Clay Aiken is running for the Democratic nomination in the 2nd Congressional District. He launched his campaign with a nearly five-minute video ad, mostly autobiographical but including some pointed barbs at the Republican incumbent, Renee Ellmers.

• The grass-roots conservative group FreedomWorks (founded by former House Majority Leader Dick Armey, R-Texas) endorsed Greg Brannon for the GOP nomination in the U.S. Senate race.

• A Wall Street Journal analysis of competitive U.S. Senate races says North Carolina Democrat Kay Hagan’s significant lead in fundraising over Republican opponents give her a cushion several other endangered Democrats do not enjoy.

• Greensboro City Councilman Tony Wilkins endorsed Rockingham County DA Phil Berger Jr. for the GOP nomination in the 6th Congressional District over council colleague Zack Matheny.

• Winkie’s out: Five term Democratic state Rep. Winkie Wilkins, D-Person, announced he would not seek a sixth term. Wilkins, who was double-bunked with Democratic Rep. Jim Crawford as a result of the 2010 redistricting, said health concerns led to his retirement.

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