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OTRC: Clay Aiken 'stunned' by death of Keith Crisco, main Democratic opponent

Keith Crisco, a candidate in the Democratic Party primary in North Carolina's 2nd Congressional District, appears in a 2014 campaign photo. He died on May 12, 2014, just days after the primary. / His opponent, Clay Aiken of 'American Idol' fame, appears in a Feb. 5, 2014 campaign video. (AP Photo / Campaign of Keith Crisco / youtube.com/channel/UCKSLCfYDctYBI6_lCTbF1-g)

Keith Crisco, a key opponent of "American Idol" alum Clay Aiken in the North Carolina Democratic primary race, has died at age 71 after suffering a fall at his home.

The accident occurred on Monday, May 12, according to the Asheboro Courier Tribune. On May 6, he and Aiken competed in a primary race for the Democratic nomination for a seat on the state's Second Congressional District. The results showed that Aiken, 35, was ahead of Crisco by 369 votes, but that the race was too close to call, according to state law.

Crisco is survived by his wife of 49 years, Jane, three children and six grandchildren, according to the Associated Press. Aiken, who had never run for office before, expressed his sympathies on Twitter over his opponent's death.

"I am stunned and deeply saddened by Keith Crisco's death," he said. "He was a gentleman, a good and honorable man and an extraordinary public servant."

"I am suspending all campaign activities as we pray for his family and friends," Aiken added.

What happens now, regarding the primary?

The results of the Democratic primary for North Carolina's Second Congressional District, which includes the singer's hometown of Raleigh, showed he had received 40.83 percent of the vote and that a total of 11,634 ballots supporting him were cast. Crisco, a businessman who served as Secretary of the North Carolina Department of Commerce from 2009 to 2013, received 11,265 ballots and 39.54 percent of the vote. A third, female candidate, Toni Morris, came in third with 5,593 ballot sand 19.63 percent of the vote.

According to North Carolina law, if there is a difference of a maximum of 1 percent of votes, the losing candidate can request a recount. It is unclear if Crisco had done so. The candidates had been waiting for an official canvassing on Tuesday, during which a two-man runoff could also be called. State Board of Elections officials have not announced what will happen next but did release a statement about Crisco's death.

"A native of North Carolina, we are grateful for Mr. Crisco's service to our state and his community through the years," the Associated Press quoted the board as saying. "Our thoughts and prayers are with the Crisco family during this difficult time."

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