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Clay Aiken’s Congressional Primary Opponent Keith Crisco drops dead during election

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North Carolina Congressional candidate Keith Crisco, who was locked in a tight challenge with Clay Aiken for the Democratic nomination, died suddenly at his home on Monday, WNCN confirmed.

Veteran political consultant Brad Crone told WNCN political reporter Beau Minnick that Crisco was near the front door of his house when he tripped on a rug, fell backward and hit his head on bricks. Crone said Crisco had planned to make a business trip to Dallas and told him he planned to pull out of the race.

A woman at his company, Asheboro Elastics Corp. in Asheboro, confirmed that he died at his home Monday around 1 p.m., and said employees at the company were being told what had happened.

“It is true,” she said. “But we don’t have any details. They wanted his employees to know.”

The news rocketed around North Carolina Monday afternoon, stunning those close to politics and those who knew Crisco in his long career.

“I am stunned and deeply saddened by Keith Crisco’s death,” Aiken said in a statement. “Keith came from humble beginnings. No matter how high he rose – to Harvard, to the White House and to the Governor’s Cabinet – 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.”

Crisco, a successful Asheboro businessman and later secretary of the North Carolina Department of Commerce, had faced Aiken in a tense battle for the Democratic nomination in the 2nd Congressional District.

Aiken was credited with 11,634 votes, Crisco 11,265 and Toni Morris of Fayetteville 5,593.

Crisco, 71, initially refused to concede the election, and the Board of Elections was scheduled to have a voter canvass on Tuesday. The State Board of Elections sent out a news release expressing that it was saddened to hear he died, but did not say what happens next in the election.

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