Clay Aiken Challenger in North Carolina Dies

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Keith Crisco, a North Carolina businessman who was locked in a tight congressional race against former American Idol contestant Clay Aiken, died Monday, bringing an unexpected and tragic end to the race.

Crisco died at his home after an accident, the president of the textile company he founded said. He was 71, the Associated Press reports, and his death was confirmed by the city of Asheboro. He sustained a fall while in his home, WTVD reports.

Crisco was trailing Aiken in last week’s too-close-to-call Democratic primary. The two were fighting for the nomination to take on Republican Rep. Renee Ellmers in November. Crisco released a statement Wednesday saying he wasn’t ready to concede; he trailed Aiken by more than 300 votes.

Asheboro, where Crisco served on the City Council, called him “an excellent leader and public servant.”

“His service to the City of Asheboro and the State of North Carolina serves as a testimony to his love of family, community, and our State,” Mayor David Smith in a statement.

Ellmers said she was “deeply saddened by this sudden and painful tragedy and wish God’s blessings for Keith’s family through the coming days.”

“His kindness and dedication to his principles were models we should all strive toward, and he will be dearly missed,” she said in a statement. “My thoughts and prayers are with Keith’s family, friends and loved ones during this difficult time.”

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