Keith Crisco, a congressional candidate in an undecided North Carolina primary race, has died.
The businessman and politician died suddenly at his home in Asheboro, N.C., The Courier-Tribune reports:
Information is incomplete; however, early information indicates he suffered injuries from a fall around 1 p.m. at his home at 1263 Thayer Drive in Asheboro. He was reported dead at the scene when emergency workers arrived there.
Crisco was 71. He was running against former singer Clay Aiken for the Democratic nomination in North Carolina’s 2nd District. Nearly a week after the polls had closed, the race was too early to call on Monday morning, as provisional, absentee, and military absentee ballots had yet to be tallied. Aiken was in the lead with 40.8 percent of the vote. Crisco was right behind him with 39.5 percent, and Toni Morris trailed with 19.6 percent of the vote.
Aiken released a statement following news of Crisco’s death. “He was a gentleman, a good and honorable man and an extraordinary public servant,” the former “American Idol” contestant said of his late opponent.
Crisco founded and ran Asheboro Elastics and sat on the Asheboro City Schools Board of Education and the Asheboro City Council. He recently served as secretary of North Carolina’s Department of Commerce before launching his House campaign.
A North Carolina Democratic strategist tells Roll Call‘s Emily Cahn that Crisco was prepared to concede to Aiken on Tuesday.
“I had spoken with Keith earlier in the day,” said Brad Crone, a friend of Crisco. “I had called [Aiken adviser] Gary Pearce to convey that Keith was going to concede the election tomorrow morning and would be calling Mr. Aiken to congratulate him.”
The winning Democratic candidate will face Republican Rep. Renee Ellmers in November; she is favored to win in the right-leaning district.
“I am deeply saddened by this sudden and painful tragedy and wish God’s blessings for Keith’s family through the coming days,” Ellmers said in a statement. “His kindness and dedication to his principles were models we should all strive toward, and he will be dearly missed.”