National & World News

Former American Idol star, Clay Aiken wins close primary race in North Carolina after opponent dies

Dana Davidsen, (CNN) — County results certified Tuesday show “American Idol” star Clay Aiken as the winner of the Democratic congressional primary in North Carolina by fewer than 400 votes, one day after his chief opponent died suddenly.

The results from the May 6 vote were certified by the counties showing that he won the

2nd Congressional District contest over Keith Crisco and a third candidate.

Crisco, a respected businessman and a former top state official, died on Monday at his home.

The tally from the North Carolina Board of Elections showed Aiken with 11,678 votes, Crisco with 11,288, and Toni Morris, third with 5,616.

Until Tuesday, the contest was without a formal winner. Crisco’s campaign confirmed that he had planned to concede on Tuesday.

Aiken temporarily suspended campaign activities due to Crisco’s death.

“He was a gentleman, a good and honorable man and an extraordinary public servant,” Aiken said in the tweet.

Aiken will meet Rep. Renee Ellmers, the two-term Republican who currently holds the seat, in November. He will face an uphill battle in the reliably conservative district.

Ellmers is a tea party favorite who won re-election with 56% of the vote in 2012.

Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney beat President Barack Obama in the district by a 58-41 margin – an even wider margin than Romney bested Obama in the state overall, 50-48.

She handily defeated conservative talk-radio host Frank Roche in her primary.

CNN’s Leigh Ann Caldwell and Mark Preston contributed to this report.

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