Crisco, primary opponent to Aiken, dies in fall

May. 12, 2014 @ 05:38 PM

A North Carolina textile entrepreneur locked in a too-close-to-call Democratic Party primary with former "American Idol" singer Clay Aiken has died.

The president of the company founded by 71-year-old Keith Crisco says Crisco died at home on Monday after an accident. AEC Narrow Fabrics President Robert Lawson says Crisco's son notified company employees of the death.

There were less than 400 votes separating Crisco and Aiken after last Tuesday's Democratic primary contest in the Republican-leaning 2nd Congressional District. The winner faces Republican incumbent Renee Ellmers in November. Tuesday is the canvass to certify results from the May 6 primary.

Crisco had been North Carolina's top business recruiter for four years under former Gov. Beverly Perdue, who left office in 2013.

Aiken issued a statement Monday afternoon expressing shock and sadness at Crisco's death.

"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.

"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."

Other politicians of both parties, including Republican Gov. Pat McCrory and U.S. Rep. Howard Coble, R-6th, expressed remorse at Crisco's death.