by APOORVA KETHIDI Staff Writer
Former American Idol runner-up Clay Aiken won the Democratic congressional primary elections in North Carolina on May 13, 2014 after his opponent died.
Aiken first came to into the public eye in 2003 when he auditioned for American Idol’s second season. Years later, he joined politics as one of the very few openly gay politicians.
After the death of 71-year-old Keith Crisco, Aiken’s opponent, the Board of Elections posted its official count in the Democratic primary for the state’s Second Congressional District. Aiken held his lead over Crisco, 40.86 percent to 39.49 percent. The State Board will certify the results on May 22.
Crisco was North Carolina’s top business recruiter for four years under former Governor Beverly Perdue, who left office in 2013.
There was a slight increase for Aiken from the previous week’s primary, but the 1.37 percentage-point margin of difference between the candidates meant there would be no recount.
Crisco died in his home on Monday afternoon. Asheboro Elastics Corporation, the textiles company Crisco co-founded, confirmed to NBC News that Crisco passed away suddenly.
“My grandfather, who lives in North Carolina, was following the race. He always supported Aiken, but when he heard about Crisco’s death he was very shocked. He never thought anything like that would ever happen, but he is glad Aiken won because now they do not need to worry about appointing a new candidate,” said freshman Tunya Patel.
To avoid a runoff, Aiken needed 40 percent of the votes. If Crisco had won the Democratic Party executive committee, he would have needed to appoint a candidate to run against Republican primary Renee Ellmers.
“I am stunned and deeply saddened by Keith Crisco’s death,” Aiken said in a statement, adding, “Keith came from humble beginnings. No matter how high he rose… 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.”
When the May 6 primary was considered too close to call, Crisco released a statement last Wednesday saying he would not yet concede to the former “American Idol” star.
“I think that Aiken handled the situation well because he did not make an inappropriate comment like other politicians might have. When people said he won because Crisco died, he did not agree or disagree, so he handled it without issues,” said freshman Olivia Johnson.
Now Aiken will run against Ellmers in November.
What do you believe would have happened if Crisco had won, even though he died?