Clay Aiken primary opponent Keith Crisco found dead

North Carolina businessman Keith Crisco, a Democrat who ran for Congress against former "American Idol" star Clay Aiken, was found dead at his home Monday, his company and campaign said.

 

An employee at the company Crisco co-founded and his campaign each said he suffered a fall but did not immediately provide further details. Crisco was 71.

A businessman and former state Commerce secretary, Crisco had been vying for the Democratic nomination for U.S. House against Aiken in the state's 2nd congressional district. The contest was without an official winner nearly a week after the primary election.

With all precincts reporting the results of last Tuesday's election, Aiken led Crisco by fewer than 400 votes, while a third candidate, Toni Morris, lagged behind the two. Crisco did not concede the race, awaiting the results of a final count, including absentee ballots that continued to pour in for days.

 

In a statement, Aiken said he was "deeply saddened" by Crisco's death and called him a "good and honorable man." Aiken announced that he was "suspending all campaign activities as we pray for his family and friends."​

The state Board of Elections said in a statement that it was "saddened to hear of the passing of Keith Crisco. A native of North Carolina, we are grateful for Mr. Crisco’s service to our state and his community through the years. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Crisco family during this difficult time."

Crisco was vying for a chance to run against Rep. Renee Ellmers (R) in a district that leans Republican.

"I am deeply saddened by this sudden and painful tragedy and wish God's blessings for Keith's family through the coming days," said Ellmers. "His kindness and dedication to his principles were models we should all strive toward, and he will be dearly missed. My thoughts and prayers are with Keith's family, friends and loved ones during this difficult time."

Updated at 8:13 p.m.

Sean Sullivan has covered national politics for The Washington Post since 2012.
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