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.

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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.

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

    GOP'rs die in office. Dead Democrats still vote.

    May 12, 2014 06:38 pm at 6:38 pm |
  2. Grego

    I bet Obama had him wacked thinking he was a wall street exec.

    May 12, 2014 06:39 pm at 6:39 pm |
  3. Booboo

    Sounds like Aiken has been watching House of Cards.

    May 12, 2014 06:49 pm at 6:49 pm |
  4. acidophilus

    It's the American Idol Scooby-Doo mystery of the year! Conspiracy!? Was it old man Withers? Did Clay do it himself!?

    May 12, 2014 06:54 pm at 6:54 pm |
  5. MannyMota

    Once again, Crisco makes it easy for Aiken to slide right on in there.

    May 12, 2014 07:00 pm at 7:00 pm |
  6. Lee

    Why wouldn't he suspend campaign activities? Doesn't he sort of just win if his opponent "drops" out?

    May 12, 2014 07:04 pm at 7:04 pm |
  7. Somemorebs

    I guess this is the real Game of Thrones.

    May 12, 2014 07:09 pm at 7:09 pm |
  8. dotheflippin'math

    It's really sad to see the low-class people making fun of Mr. Crisco's death. He was a good man, a human being, married to the same woman for 49 years. I agree with those of you who pointed-out that it should have been Crisco's name in the headlines. My condolences to his family, and to the death of decency and civility. I am not surprised that the folks making jokes, paranoid delusions, and offensive comments are mostly tea-party supporters. When did you stop being human beings? I think you people are lost, and complete hypocrites. I do not like GWB, or Dick Cheney, but I will not laugh, or cheer, when they die. We're all still people, even if we disagree. Have you no empathy? Do you know how it feels to lose a parent, a spouse, or a friend? How does it feel to have no feelings? I guess that's why you call us "bleeding heart liberals." It's good to care about your fellow man. We are all Americans. Family and friendship are core values, more important than political sides, or religious affiliations, or at least they used to be. Too much hate on the right. It's out of control.

    May 12, 2014 07:20 pm at 7:20 pm |
  9. Bill

    The comics will have a field day with this one

    May 12, 2014 07:22 pm at 7:22 pm |
  10. mike

    Is there a new law that threatens punishment for overt civility ??? A decent number of those who have commented on this unfortunate death must think so...A lot of disgusting, disrespectful comments here...Not surprising in this day and age, but still disappointing...

    May 12, 2014 07:26 pm at 7:26 pm |
  11. Nax

    Not really some one worth treating like a human being, just that other guy not from A.I.

    May 12, 2014 07:33 pm at 7:33 pm |
  12. gstlab3

    sounds like a clintonesque unexplained out of the blue whoops you're dead.,
    last count was 46 unexplained and or horrible deaths surrounding the clintons.

    May 12, 2014 07:37 pm at 7:37 pm |
  13. t

    sure,.....he was a tea party saint.......

    May 12, 2014 07:43 pm at 7:43 pm |
  14. Bill

    I think our society would be a lot better and our elected officials a lot more effective if we didn't wait until after people passed away to acknowledge the good they've done and their admirable qualities, even if (especially if) they're our rivals.

    May 12, 2014 07:44 pm at 7:44 pm |
  15. hoeech

    In other news, Ruben Studdard will be performing at the opening of a used car dealership in Camden NJ.

    May 12, 2014 07:50 pm at 7:50 pm |
  16. some person

    wow clay aitken should be arrested for locking him in and killing him. this is unbelievable. is this what electoral politics in this couintry has become?

    May 12, 2014 07:51 pm at 7:51 pm |
  17. gumbythecat

    Lesson learned: Do NOT make Clay Aiken angry.

    May 12, 2014 07:57 pm at 7:57 pm |
  18. 2_indy1600

    Running an american idol for congress? Pretty much sums it all up, doesn't it?

    May 12, 2014 08:05 pm at 8:05 pm |
  19. Pander Bear

    Dang. Clay plays hardball.

    May 12, 2014 08:10 pm at 8:10 pm |
  20. McBob79

    Spooky when a singing contestant can get the democratic nomination for congress. But i guess it's a trend. Comedian Al Franken, community organizer Barrack Obama, wife Hillary Clinton, Actor Arnold Swartzenegger (R), but it's California so doesn't count. Celebs to run the country... dang, we're in trouble.

    May 12, 2014 08:13 pm at 8:13 pm |
  21. smartaz

    Nothing suspicious here....

    May 12, 2014 08:16 pm at 8:16 pm |
  22. NanookoftheNorth

    Clay Aiken ? The singer ?? Clay Aiken, the singer, who's 'Mary Can You Hear Me', is a Christmas classic ??? Wow, what a diff a few years makes 😉

    May 12, 2014 08:16 pm at 8:16 pm |
  23. dsrobins

    Well, that's one way to win an election when your opponent drops dead. Keep in mind that it does appear that Aiken had already won before Crisco (great name!) kicked the bucket.

    May 12, 2014 08:19 pm at 8:19 pm |
  24. Amber

    71 is too dern old to run for such an important office. what the heck are the people of NC thinking???? Get with the times. Clay Aiken is your hometown golden boy. You are lucky you have got him.

    May 12, 2014 08:20 pm at 8:20 pm |
  25. Anonymous

    It was better that he was behind Aitken than to have Aitken behind him.

    May 12, 2014 08:31 pm at 8:31 pm |
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