Keith Crisco, Clay Aiken's North Carolina Democratic challenger, dies suddenly at 71

By Kyle Johnson,

Keith Crisco, who was challenging Clay Aiken for the Democratic nomination in North Carolina's 2nd Congressional District, passed away unexpectedly on Monday at the age of 71.

According to the Asheboro Courier-Tribune, his death was due to injuries that resulted from a fall at his home. Crisco died at the scene.

Crisco and Aiken were nearly neck and neck for the nomination, with the race deemed too close to call, though the American Idol alum was said to be about 369 votes ahead, reports USA Today. Votes from absentee and provisional ballots were still being counted and on Tuesday the results were too be announced.

Whoever was declared the winner would run against Republican Rep. Renee Ellmers in the fall.

"A native of North Carolina, we are grateful for Mr. Crisco's service to our state and his community through the years," the North Carolina State Board of Elections said, according to NBC News. "Our thoughts and prayers are with the Crisco family during this difficult time."

Crisco is survived by his wife, Jane, along with three children and six grandchildren. He was previously the state's Secretary of Commerce and co-founded the Asheboro Elastics Corporation.

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