American Idol alum Clay Aiken won the Democratic primary for a North Carolina congressional seat according to a final, unofficial vote count that was posted Tuesday, a day after the accidental death of his closest rival.
We told you earlier this year that he was running for Congress — but we’re honestly surprised at the outcome thus far.
Aiken will face Republican incumbent Renee Ellmers in November in the GOP-leaning district where Mitt Romney won nearly six in 10 votes in 2012. Ellmers won by 56 percent that year and is not looking for a third term. The county-by-county tally of the 2nd Congressional District race posted by the state Tuesday confirmed Aiken got more than 40 percent of the vote needed to win the three-candidate race.
On Monday, second-place finisher Keith Crisco, 71, died after falling at his home. Hours earlier, campaign manager Christine Botta said they had counted the absentee votes in two key counties, forcing Crisco to acknowledge defeat. He had decided to concede his loss to Aiken on Tuesday, she said.
“Keith and I talked in detail about the fact that the votes weren’t there,” Botta said.
Aiken and Crisco each picked up a handful of votes after the last of the absentee ballots returned by a Monday deadline were counted, according to results on the State Board of Elections website.
The results will become official after review by the state elections board. That meeting isn’t yet set, Elections board spokesman Joshua Lawson said, but is tentatively scheduled for May 22.
Crisco slipped and fell while stepping through the front door of his home in Asheboro, about 65 miles west of Raleigh.
“We know that he fell in the threshold as he was going in his house,” said Asheboro city manager John Ogburn, who spoke with rescue workers sent to the scene and has known Crisco for more than a decade.
“It was just a total freak accident,” said Brad Crone, a Raleigh political consultant and friend who discussed Crisco’s concession decision with the candidate about two hours before his death. “The truth is stranger than fiction.”
Crisco’s funeral was scheduled for Friday.
What an unfortunate circumstance. We wish Clay the best in his race, despite how odd it may seem.