Keith Crisco Dies Suddenly During Undecided North Carolina Primary Against Clay Aiken

The Democrat was running for a seat in the state’s 2nd District.

National Journal
Marina Koren
May 12, 2014, 12:48 p.m.

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.”

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