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MAY
12
5 MOS

Clay Aiken's Congressional Primary Opponent Dies in a Fall

Keith Crisco, 71, who was locked in a close Democratic primary with the "American Idol" star, died at his home on Monday.

Clay Aiken PR 2012 P
Curtis Brown
Clay Aiken

Clay Aiken's political opponent, Keith Crisco, 71, died on Monday after sustaining injuries from a fall at his home.

The Asheboro, N.C., businessman and congressional candidate was battling with the American Idol star in a close race for the Democratic nomination in the 2nd Congressional District at the time of his death. The election was held last Tuesday.
 
"I am stunned and deeply saddened by Keith Crisco’s death. 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," said Aiken in a statement to The Hollywood Reporter
 
 
"He was a gentleman, a good and honorable man and an extraordinary public servant. I was honored to know him. I am suspending all campaign activities as we pray for his family and friends."
 
A spokesperson for the Asheboro City Council told THR that Crisco was in "really great health" and there were no further details at this time.
 
Earlier this month, Crisco ran a campaign ad attacking the American Idol alum on his absences at meetings for a presidential appointment to a committee on people with intellectual disabilities.
 
 
Although the race was considered too close to call, Aiken led by 369 votes. Both candidates were awaiting word tomorrow on how to proceed.
Crisco served one and a half terms on the Asheboro City Council, and served as the Secretary of the North Carolina Department of Commerce in January 2009. He also served on the Asheboro City Schools Board of Education and several nonprofit boards. As a businessman, he launched Asheboro Elastics Company in 1986. 
 
"Keith was an excellent leader and public servant,"  said  Mayor David Smith in a statement. "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."
 
Crisco had been North Carolina's top business recruiter for four years under former governor Beverly Perdue, who left office in 2013. He was born to a Republican family on a dairy farm and earned an MBA from Harvard University, according to the Associated Press. He spent a year in President Richard Nixon's Commerce Department and had a career in textile manufacturing.