Clay Aiken speaks to supporters during an election night watch party in Holly Springs, N.C., Tuesday, May 6, 2014.
Photo by Gerry Broome/AP

Clay Aiken sounds confident in tight North Carolina primary race


No winner has been declared in the close race for the Democratic nomination in North Carolina’s 2nd congressional district, where former American Idol runner-up-turned-politician Clay Aiken faced off against textile businessman Keith Crisco.

Votes were still being counted Wednesday, USA Today reported. Aiken led Crisco by 369 votes, according to WNCN – but Crisco wasn’t ready to concede the race.

“This election is still very tight,” he told the news station. “I want the elections’ officials to have an opportunity to tally the votes and provide a report on their canvass activities to allow all the campaigns a chance to see the final numbers.”

In a statement, Aiken sounded a confident note. “This was a very close contest, and as we continue to count the votes, we are more and more excited about our campaign’s ability to move forward and be victorious in November,” he said. “We’re grateful for all the messages of congratulations and pledges of continued support that we’ve received today.” 

The singer and runner-up on Celebrity Apprentice touted his middle-class upbringing and work as a teacher during the primary campaign; he positioned himself as a centrist in the conservative district and has pushed back against questions about his sexuality, saying that only reporters were asking whether a gay man would hurt is campaign in a conservative district.  

Related: May Madness: The 5 primaries to follow

The district does run red: 58% of voters in the district chose Mitt Romney over President Barack Obama in the 2012 presidential race. But before Elmers was elected in 2010, the district was held by a Democrat for more than a decade.

If Aiken wins, he’ll challenge incumbent Rep. Renee Elmers, a Republican, in the general election.

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Clay Aiken sounds confident in tight North Carolina primary race