Washington Bureau

05.12.14

Clay Aiken’s Democratic Opponent Dies Suddenly

The opponent of Clay Aiken in last week’s North Carolina Democratic primary in the Second Congressional District died in a fall on Monday.

Keith Crisco, Clay Aiken’s rival in the Democratic primary to take on incumbent Rep. Renee Ellmers in North Carolina’s Second Congressional District, died Monday.

Crisco, North Carolina’s former state commerce secretary, who trailed Aiken by 369 votes in last week's Democratic primary, collapsed suddenly in his Ashboro driveway on Monday, was apparently due to concede to Aiken on Tuesday before his death.

Crisco’s death clears the way for Aiken, most famous for finishing second in American Idol, to become the Democratic nominee against Ellmers, who won her first election by 1,500 votes against incumbent Democrat Bob Etheridge in 2010. Aiken will face an uphill battle aganst Ellmers, in a district since gerrymandered to be Republican-leaning. While Ellmers struggled in her May primary against an underfunded opponent who ran in opposition to the Republican incumbent's support for immigration reform, it's unlikely that Aiken will pivot to Ellmers’ right on this issue.

The sudden death of Aiken’s Democratic opponent does forestall any drama in the Democratic primary, which was due for a final canvass this week. Instead, it simply paves the way for the pop singer, best known for his post-American Idol albumMeasure Of A Man, to become his party's nominee for November in a deep red district in the Tarheel State.