(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.
Follow @politicaltickerFollow @danadavidsenCNN
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.
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.
That's one lame duck
Reuben Studdard is dead?
Man, don't mess with Clay Aiken...
I guess he won't ask for a recount now.
he wont be asking for a recount now!
Shouldn't stop Democrats from putting him in power.
Don't F with Clay Aiken.
Damn... Clay Aiken don't play
Wow Clays allot tougher contender than I gave him credit for.
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.
Clay Aiken... Murderer?!
My prediction is he won't be asking for a recount.
WOW, Clay Aiken has mysterious gay powers....
A shame that this guy's entire life and legacy and the only reason his death is important is because of Clay Aiken
who knew clay aiken had such powerful connections. ruben studdard fo life
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.
clays opponent dies after listening to clays last album. this is a clear case of MURDER in the second degree.
Nobody messes with Clay Aiken and gets away with it. Nobody.
Is he going to run for office posthumously?
Its amazing what O'Barrry will do to keep a seat
That's one way to get rid of democrats.
This is some House of Cards level intrigue.
Release the Kraiken!!!
Note to self, don't mess with Clay Aiken