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Keith Crisco, Congressional Opponent Of Clay Aiken, Dies

Keith Crisco, a North Carolina textile entrepreneur who went up against former <em>American Idol</em> singer Clay Aiken in a Democratic primary, died in an accident at home on Monday.

A week after apparently losing his nomination bid for Congress, Keith Crisco has died.

Despite extensive experience in business and government, Crisco is fated to be best known as the person who finished behind former American Idol star Clay Aiken in a Democratic primary in North Carolina last Tuesday.

"The president of the company founded by 71-year-old Keith Crisco says Crisco died at home on Monday after an accident," The Associated Press reports.

The Asheboro Courier-Tribune, which first reported the death, says "early information" indicates that Crisco suffered injuries from a fall at his home and had died by the time emergency workers arrived at the scene.

In addition to founding Asheboro Elastics Corp., a textile company, Crisco had served as state commerce secretary and as a member of the Asheboro City Council.

None of that was enough for him to outpace Aiken, a political newcomer. Aiken was leading by 369 votes by last count.

Roll Call reports that Crisco was planning to call Aiken on Tuesday to concede.

"I had spoken with Keith earlier in the day," Brad Crone, a Democratic strategist and Crisco friend, told the Capitol Hill newspaper. "Keith was going to concede the election tomorrow morning and would be calling Mr. Aiken to congratulate him."

Declaring himself "stunned and deeply saddened," Aiken said he was suspending his campaign for the time being.

NPR's Charlie Mahtesian notes that either Democrat would have faced an uphill climb against Republican Rep. Renee Ellmers. She took 56 percent of the 2nd District's vote in 2012, while GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney performed slightly better.

"That's a district that's pretty comfortably Republican, so it won't be easy for a Democrat to win there," Charlie said last week on Here and Now.

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Alan Greenblatt has been covering politics and government in Washington and around the country for 20 years. He came to NPR as a digital reporter in 2010, writing about a wide range of topics, including elections, housing economics, natural disasters and same-sex marriage.
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