“American Idol” runner-up Clay Aiken has won the Democratic nomination for Congress in North Carolina, according to the Associated Press.
After the untimely death of Keith Crisco, 71, Aiken’s Democratic opponent, the Board of Elections posted its official count in the Democratic primary for the state’s Second Congressional District: As of Tuesday afternoon, Aiken maintained his lead over Crisco, 11,678 votes (40.86%) to 11,288 (39.49%), a difference of 390 votes, in a race that was originally deemed too-close-to-call.
Any voter can file a protest to these results by Thursday, and the State Board will certify the results on May 22. However, the current count is expected to stand.
Crisco died in his home Monday afternoon. Asheboro Elastics Corporation, the textiles company Crisco co-founded, confirmed to NBC News that Crisco passed away suddenly. Crisco suffered from a fall in his home earlier Monday, and was already dead by the time emergency workers arrived, according to The Asheboro-Courier Tribune.
“I am stunned and deeply saddened by Keith Crisco’s death,” Aiken said in a statement, adding, “Keith came from humble beginnings. No matter how high he rose – to Harvard, to the White House and to the Governor’s Cabinet – he never forgot where he came from. He was a gentleman, a good and honorable man and an extraordinary public servant. I was honored to know him. I am suspending all campaign activities as we pray for his family and friends.”
The winner of the primary will go up against Rep. Renee Ellmers, the Republican incumbent, this November.
“I am deeply saddened by this sudden and painful tragedy and wish God’s blessings for Keith’s family through the coming days,” Ellmers said in a statement, adding, “His kindness and dedication to his principles were models we should all strive toward, and he will be dearly missed. My thoughts and prayers are with Keith’s family, friends and loved ones during this difficult time.”
When the May 6 primary was considered too-close-to-call, Crisco released a statement last Wednesday saying he would not yet concede to the former “American Idol” star.
“This election is still very tight. 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,” Crisco said in last week’s statement. “This has been a great campaign and I am very appreciative of my supporters and the hard work that the county boards of elections are doing at this time.”
Born and raised in North Carolina, Crisco served as Secretary of Commerce for the state before leaving his post in 2012. He also served on Asheboro’s City Council from 2003-2009. He was also a member of the University of North Carolina School of Public Health Advisory Council and board chair for the North Carolina Center for Public Policy Research.
Of Crisco’s passing, North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory said in a statement, “My heart sank, like so many other people who admired Keith Crisco,” adding, “While I was a mayor, and now as governor, Keith was a partner, collaborator and strong advocate for the state he loved. Although Keith was a Democrat and a Pfeiffer University graduate, and I went to Catawba and am a Republican, nothing could stop Keith Crisco from building a lasting friendship. North Carolina was blessed and is a better state because of his leadership.”