Keith Crisco Dead: Clay Aiken’s Congressional Opponent Dies Suddenly Before Race Is Called

Keith Crisco and Clay Aiken
Keith Crisco, Clay Aiken's main opponent in North Carolina's Democratic congressional primary, died suddenly on May 12  AP Photo/Crisco for Congress; Walter McBride/WireImage

Keith Crisco, Clay Aiken's main rival in the Democratic primary for North Carolina's Second Congressional District seat, died suddenly on Monday, May 12, a spokesperson for his company confirmed to NBC News. He was 71.

A rep for Asheboro Elastics Corporation, which Crisco owned and co-founded, said he passed away at around 1:30 p.m. The Asheboro Courier-Tribune reported that he appeared to have suffered injuries from a fall at his home.

Crisco and Aiken had been locked in a too-close-to-call race following last Tuesday's Democratic primary in North Carolina. As of Monday, Aiken had a lead of 369 votes, with 40.83 percent of the vote. Both candidates were awaiting an official canvassing on Tuesday, May 13; the winner of the primary would face Republican Rep. Renee Ellmers in the general election.

Crisco previously served as North Carolina's Secretary of Commerce. In a statement after his death, the North Carolina State Board of Elections expressed condolences and gratitude for his years of hard work.

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

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