May 12th, 2014
04:49 PM ET
8 years 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.

[twitter-follow screen_name='politicalticker'][twitter-follow screen_name='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.

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

    All 'T' all shade!

    May 12, 2014 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  2. Anonymous

    Clay don't play. He will slay in May.

    May 12, 2014 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  3. don in albuquerque

    The GOTP has been holding offices for decades and they died long ago.

    May 12, 2014 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  4. kasey

    Silence, it seems to me that someone is making fun of the rep candidate, so what makes you think it's the "moral" right wing, as you put it?? Jump to conclusions much? Silly.

    While I'm at it, this person has passed away. Those of you who make jokes at his expense need a good kick in the rear end. Shame on you. Unfortunately they sometimes let you out of the shallow end to make those comments.

    May 12, 2014 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  5. Bill, Bloomington Il

    had this gentleman been republican the liberals do-gooders would not be on the high road.

    May 12, 2014 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  6. CAW

    hmmm...Did he slip over his own name...I mean Crisco is quite slippery

    May 12, 2014 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  7. Shawn

    Ruben Studdard is dead??

    May 12, 2014 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
  8. yoshimoto

    clay aiken – you have got to be kidding me – I pray the Dems pick him for the primary

    May 12, 2014 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  9. Pumpernickel IUDs

    People that old should not be allowed to run for office.

    May 12, 2014 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
  10. Arthur Vandelay

    well in the south they vote for a Democrat even if he is dead. Yellow dog Democrat is what I heard when I came to the south

    May 12, 2014 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  11. jaydee

    When i clicked on the teaser headline I was expecting to see a picture of Ruben Studdard! I was Rubenized!

    May 12, 2014 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  12. Thomas

    RIP ,

    Compassion !

    May 12, 2014 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  13. CrashMan

    @Bill, it IS the American Idol singer Clay Aiken. The photo is of his oponent, Keith Crisco, who died. Aiken is running for a Congressional seat representing Nort Carolina.

    May 12, 2014 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  14. K dub

    Clay Aiken = Francis Underwood

    May 12, 2014 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  15. Brian from DC

    How long do you think the decent period of mourning will be before Conservatives blame his death on Clay Aiken being Gay?

    May 12, 2014 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  16. Jd

    sounds like an episode of the Blacklist to me... Hmmm...

    May 12, 2014 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
  17. noteasilyswayed

    We need younger people in Congress. People with new ideas and that not a part of the establishment. We need this in both parties.

    May 12, 2014 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  18. Fred

    Boy, don't cross Clay Aiken, or he'll rub you, OUT!!

    Too soon??

    May 12, 2014 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  19. Kelly

    Clay had him offed.....

    May 12, 2014 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
  20. ajt

    His "Political Ticker" gave out?

    May 12, 2014 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
  21. Darrell

    Does not play well with others.

    May 12, 2014 05:49 pm at 5:49 pm |
  22. Jackson

    Pumpernickel IUDs

    People that old should not be allowed to run for office.


    Right, because no 40 year olds ever die of anything ever.

    May 12, 2014 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
  23. tet1953

    yoshimoto: this was the primary I believe. It makes Aiken the nominee.

    May 12, 2014 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
  24. gahh

    In Texas, we have a Congressman 93 years old, and is running again. He brings in so much money for his district, they'd vote for him if he was dead, which he pretty much is.

    May 12, 2014 05:51 pm at 5:51 pm |
  25. Paulie 'little bag of" Donuts

    Am I the only one that finds it curious that his opponents name was Crisco? Aikens being gay and all that. ( Not that there is anything wrong with that)

    *Yes, this is total Seinfeld references..

    May 12, 2014 05:51 pm at 5:51 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7