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Clay Aiken's primary opponent dies at his home

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) - Former "American Idol" singer Clay Aiken appeared headed toward a fall showdown for a congressional seat after the death of the entrepreneur who trailed him narrowly in a too-close-to-call Democratic primary.

Keith Crisco, 71, died Monday after an accidental fall at his home in Asheboro, about 65 miles west of Raleigh, according to a statement from his family.

"He was a remarkable man with a tremendous dedication to his family and to public service," the statement said.

Clay Aiken's Primary Opponent Dies in Accident

Aiken was leading Crisco by fewer than 400 votes after the contest last Tuesday. If enough new votes turn up to make Crisco the winner, local Democrats will select a new nominee, state elections board spokesman Josh Lawson said. If not, Aiken will be the nominee, he said. The vote is expected to be certified Thursday.

The nominee will face Republican incumbent Renee Ellmers in November in the GOP-leaning 2nd Congressional District.

Crisco had been North Carolina's top business recruiter for four years under former Gov. Beverly Perdue, who left office in 2013.

"I asked him to ... be Commerce secretary during the worst economic times since the Great Depression," Perdue said in a statement. "He accepted that responsibility without hesitation because he loved this state and wanted to help when times were hard."

Crisco was born to a Republican family on a Stanly County dairy farm in North Carolina, he said in an interview last month.

"I did pull corn. I did plow. I did milk cows. I did do all the things you do on a small farm," Crisco said.

He got a scholarship to study science at the county's Pfeiffer University. There, he met his wife and her family of yellow-dog Democrats, and Crisco said he converted.

He went to Harvard University to study for a master's of business administration, which he received in 1968, then returned to North Carolina to work for textile giant Burlington Industries. In the early 1970s, Crisco was selected as a White House Fellow, and he spent a year in President Richard Nixon's Commerce Department.

In 1986, Crisco and partners formed Asheboro Elastics to produce elastics for home furnishings and medical and industrial uses. He joked that the company's mission was to "hold your underwear up." The company was renamed AEC Narrow Fabrics and is now run by hired executives, his sons and a son-in-law.

Crisco's business success allowed him to lend more than $500,000 to his campaign against Aiken, according to financial statements filed last month.

"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," Aiken said in a statement. "He was a gentleman, a good and honorable man and an extraordinary public servant. I was honored to know him."

Join the discussion

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bigred8690 May 12 2014 at 11:14 PM

This is what the Democratic Party has been reduced to in Southern states--a showcase for failed celebrities like Aiken and Ashley Judd. I still meet some Yellow Dog Democrats but they are about as rare now as rear-wheel-drive Yank Tanks.

Flag Reply +3 rate up
gmartin997 May 13 2014 at 6:26 AM

I often wonder if the Supreme Court even considered the far-reaching implications of its decision in '99. Before, any homosexual discovered in Congress would have been drummed out and forced to resign in disgrace, and now they're openly running for office. What's more disheartening is people are actually voting for them. The country keeps sinking deeper and deeper into the cesspool of debauchery.

Flag Reply +4 rate up
4 replies
RANDYTHOMAS711 May 13 2014 at 8:01 AM

So it looks like Aiken will get it in the end!

Flag Reply +7 rate up
renner1234 May 13 2014 at 8:32 AM

Oh those democrats

Flag Reply +1 rate up
FRANK May 13 2014 at 8:36 AM

Can't sing and not a politician either.

Flag Reply +3 rate up
leslie May 13 2014 at 9:06 AM

He must have learned that trick from Hillary that dead people can't compete

Flag Reply +4 rate up
mpdive12 May 13 2014 at 9:22 AM

He was pushed by little gay hands

Flag Reply +7 rate up
1 reply
Paul mpdive12 May 13 2014 at 9:54 AM

that's what I was thinking not the little gay hand thing, but the guy dying unexpectedly I know he was old but wow, but do to the magic of TV everything is a conspiracy to me, but still?..something not kosher about this

Flag Reply +1 rate up
buglebob May 13 2014 at 9:24 AM

71 yrs old and he looked 90.

It just wasn't meant to be for Crisco.

Perfect that the Dems are running an American Idol contestant. Probably doesn't know where the capital of NC is.

Flag Reply +4 rate up
1 reply
loxjocks buglebob May 13 2014 at 10:27 AM

And the Republicans sent a B-movie star to the White House several years ago. People are entitled--and can be successful--in more than one career. I certainly have, Ronald Reagan, Sonny Bono and other Hollywood celebs did it and there's no reason why Aiken, just because he's a talented singer, cannot be an effective politician

Flag Reply +1 rate up
ccoleminer May 13 2014 at 9:33 AM

Shame on all of you! Someone's husband and father has died in an unexpected accident and they are in pain, just like all of you would be, but instead of addressing your sympathy and concern for Mr. Crisco's family you embarass yourselves by your ignorance. Mr. Aiken has shown care and concern for Mr. Crisco's family by his words and actions, why can't you?

My sympathy and prayers are with the Crisco Family during this time.

Flag Reply +9 rate up
Bob May 13 2014 at 9:43 AM

If this happened in Chicago, at least Crisco could still vote.

Flag Reply +3 rate up
1 reply
yayabeanes Bob May 13 2014 at 11:03 AM

If this happened in Chicago, it would be politics as usual.

Flag Reply 0 rate up
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