May 12th, 2014
04:49 PM ET
4 months ago

Candidate locked in close primary contest with Clay Aiken dies

(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.

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.


Filed under: 2014 • North Carolina • Uncategorized
soundoff (172 Responses)
  1. smith

    Well thats one way to pick up a seat in congress. However, I doubt the rest of the people in Clay`s way are going to keel over.

    May 12, 2014 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  2. Mario

    That's one lame duck

    May 12, 2014 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  3. jackrap

    Reuben Studdard is dead?

    May 12, 2014 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  4. santamoss

    Man, don't mess with Clay Aiken...

    May 12, 2014 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  5. johne7

    I guess he won't ask for a recount now.

    May 12, 2014 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  6. erick

    he wont be asking for a recount now!

    May 12, 2014 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  7. joe doe

    Shouldn't stop Democrats from putting him in power.

    May 12, 2014 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  8. MC

    Don't F with Clay Aiken.

    May 12, 2014 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  9. FatJoe

    Damn... Clay Aiken don't play

    May 12, 2014 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  10. iceload

    Wow Clays allot tougher contender than I gave him credit for.

    May 12, 2014 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  11. Travis

    Wow... way to honor a person who passed. It's bad enough that Clay Aiken's is in the headline, but you didn't even include Keith Crisco's name as if he was only Aiken's opponent and not an actual person.

    May 12, 2014 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  12. Chippy

    Clay Aiken... Murderer?!

    May 12, 2014 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  13. kristian

    My prediction is he won't be asking for a recount.

    May 12, 2014 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  14. Searcher1

    WOW, Clay Aiken has mysterious gay powers....

    May 12, 2014 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  15. Michael

    A shame that this guy's entire life and legacy and the only reason his death is important is because of Clay Aiken

    May 12, 2014 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  16. dylanmckay

    who knew clay aiken had such powerful connections. ruben studdard fo life

    May 12, 2014 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  17. Stan

    Sad when the headline on your death reads "Clay Aiken Primary Opponent." All of his other accomplishments in life will be lost behind his run for congress against Aiken.

    May 12, 2014 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  18. samarai sam

    clays opponent dies after listening to clays last album. this is a clear case of MURDER in the second degree.

    May 12, 2014 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  19. Wisconsin77

    Nobody messes with Clay Aiken and gets away with it. Nobody.

    May 12, 2014 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  20. HTR

    Is he going to run for office posthumously?

    May 12, 2014 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  21. larry

    Its amazing what O'Barrry will do to keep a seat

    May 12, 2014 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  22. Tom

    That's one way to get rid of democrats.

    May 12, 2014 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  23. Francis Underwood

    This is some House of Cards level intrigue.

    May 12, 2014 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  24. Rick from Chicago

    Release the Kraiken!!!

    May 12, 2014 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  25. aerokid

    Note to self, don't mess with Clay Aiken

    May 12, 2014 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
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