(CNN) – Keith Crisco, a businessman who was locked in a close primary race for a Democratic congressional seat in North Carolina with Clay Aiken, died on Monday.
He died at home in Asheboro around 1 p.m., according to the North Carolina Democratic Party. Other details were not immediately clear. He was 71.
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Crisco was running a very close second in the primary battle in North Carolina's 2nd Congressional District, around 300 votes behind Aiken.
Final results had been expected as early as Tuesday along with a decision by Crisco on whether he would ask for a recount if the situation hadn't changed.
Aiken tweeted that he was "stunned and deeply saddened" by Crisco's death and temporarily suspended campaign activities.
"He was a gentleman, a good and honorable man and an extraordinary public servant," Aiken said in the tweet.
Democratic Party Chairman Randy Voller noted Crisco's accomplishments in the public and private sector.
"Keith was a brilliant problem solver who liked to make good, solid public policy. He would have made a great congressman," Democratic Party Chairman Randy Voller said.
Rep. Renee Ellmers, the Republican who currently holds the seat and would face the primary winner in November, said she was "deeply saddened" by the news.
"His kindness and dedication to his principles were models we should all strive toward and he will be dearly missed," Ellmers said. "My thoughts and prayers are with Keith's family, friends and loved ones during this difficult time."
Crisco was a textile entrepreneur and co-founded Asheboro Elastics, which confirmed his death.
He was also a former state commerce secretary and was a White House fellow in the 1970s.
He is survived by his wife of 49 years, Jane, and three children and six grandchildren.
His campaign could not immediately be reached for comment.
Democrats already faced an uphill battle to unseat Ellmers in the general election. She's in her second term in Congress.
CNN Political Director Mark Preston contributed to this report.
to the person who said he was to old to run for office - just wait - if you are lucky you will have a different view of life when you are 70+
Aiken definitely liked the fact his opponent was behind him. He felt like a winner I'm sure.
Humanity is doomed.
"unfortunately, this means that Clay Aiken is the Democratic candidate".... well said.
Yeah... I'm sure it was an accident.
clay take him down?
All this highlights is that running for any office has become more "Hollywood" than ever with no special qualifications necessary other than money and/or a hit recording...
House of cards be going on.
I suspect he died from dehydration due to throwing up all the time having to listen to Clay Akin. I get the same feeling. Just thinking about him and his singing makes me sick.
Clay had won the race already by about 400 votes. Tomorrow morning the final count will be out including military, provisional & absentee ballots, of which there aren't many. There won't be any difference in percentages & Crisco was all ready to concede, according to his team. So even tho it's an easy joke, Clay had no actual reason to want him out. Now Ellmers Fudd, his sleazy GOP rival in the fall..... well, we can only pray that the congresswoman who's voted against her constituents time after time gets what's coming to her.
Aiken took out his political rival. The guy has ice water running through his veins.
While Keith Crisco may be an unknown nationally, he was a respected businessman who was involved in state & local politics in NC for most of his life. So yes, he has a legacy besides this dismissive headline. But yeah, Clay has already won, really.
One man spent a lifetime preparing for a final act of community service...the other is bored and wants more fame. At least, that is how it seems. He gets to take office, presumably, with a clouded name now. No one won but it sounds like the NC voters really lost the most this time.
Now the fat is really in the fire. Crisco was known as a savvy, slippery political operator but was known to bring a lot of pork projects to his constituents. He came close to being canned by the voters.
That ought to make things easier for the competition.
Clay you may sing but your not ment for the political ring.
Pretty sure ALL of Crisco's political opponents are "shocked and saddened" right now. I mean...the bonds that politicians share...the love spewed all over the news on a constant basis...of course! (sarc)
it's an extremely sad statement on the moral condition of our nation when someone such as clay aiken can even be considered as a candidate for public office
shame on the democratic party and shame on those who voted for him
seems multitudes of people who claim to be americans have forgotten our motto – "in god we trust"
when a good person passes away he/she should be respected for their goodness and a memory should always burn bright it is hard to find good people in politics anymore
--a colossal loss to the nation.
there should be an age limit also.