The Democrat politician who is trailing former American Idol contestant Clay Aiken in North Carolina’s still too-close-to call Democratic congressional primary was found dead on Monday, according to local news reports.
Keith Crisco “died suddenly at his home” on Monday, according to an Asheboro newspaper, The Courier-Tribune. Crisco, 71, according to the report, died after a fall.
The Democratic primary for the 2nd congressional district seat took place last Tuesday. Aiken finished the night by leading Crisco, the former secretary of the N.C. Department of Commerce, by 369 votes, but the race has yet to be called because of the small margin.
The winner of that battle was set to face Republican incumbent Rep. Renee Ellmers in November. The Democrat nominee will be a long shot in this race: In 2012, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney carried the district with 57 percent of the vote.
Aiken on Monday reacted to the news by saying he is “suspending all campaign activities as we pray for his family and friends.”
“I am stunned and deeply saddened by Keith Crisco’s death,” Aiken said in a statement. “Keith came from humble beginnings. No matter how high he rose – to Harvard, to the White House and to the Governor’s Cabinet – he never forgot where he came from.”
Added Aiken: “He was a gentleman, a good and honorable man and an extraordinary public servant. I was honored to know him.”