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Ex-Idol Clay Aiken Officially Secures Democratic Nomination For Congress

Photo: Clay Aiken

Clay Aiken, the former American Idol singer, secured the Democratic nomination for North Carolina’s second congressional district Tuesday, officially receiving enough votes to avert a runoff in his party’s primary elections.

Aiken received 40.9% of the vote, over his closest opponent, former state Commerce Secretary Keith Crisco, who got 39.4% of the vote, according to the State Board of Election’s official results released today.

Aiken’s mathematical victory asserted him as the strongest Democratic contender for November’s general election, but became irrelevant yesterday when Crisco, 71, died unexpectedly after a fall in his Asheboro home yesterday. A close friend and campaign strategist said Crisco had planned to concede the race to Aiken Tuesday.

Aiken and Crisco were waiting for today’s official voting results, which took into account absentee and provisional ballots, since last Tuesday’s elections. Aiken’s then-unofficial lead of 40.8% of the vote, or 11,634 votes, over Crisco’s 39.5%, or 11,265, had been too close for officials to fully determine it was enough to avoid a runoff election.

In a statement, Aiken said he was suspending his campaign to pray for Crisco’s family and friends.

“He was a gentleman, a good and honorable man and an extraordinary public servant,” Aiken said. “I was honored to know him.”

Aiken will face Republican incumbent Renee Ellmers, who won her primary election handily against a conservative radio show host, in the November election. Two Republicans vying for their party’s nomination to the 6th congressional district -- Rockingham County district attorney Phil Berger, Jr. and former Baptist minister Mark Walker -- will be on the ballot for a runoff election on July 15.

Jorge Valencia has been with North Carolina Public Radio since 2012. A native of Bogotá, Colombia, Jorge studied journalism at the University of Maryland and reported for four years for the Roanoke Times in Virginia before joining the station. His reporting has also been published in the Wall Street Journal, the Miami Herald, and the Baltimore Sun.
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