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Monday May 4th, 2015 10:11AM

Clay Aiken's primary opponent dies at his home

By The Associated Press
ASHEBORO, N.C. (AP) -- The North Carolina entrepreneur who was locked in a too-close-to-call Democratic Party primary with former "American Idol" singer Clay Aiken died Monday, said the president of the textile company he founded.

Keith Crisco, 71, died from "some type of fall" at his home, according to Robert Lawson, president of AEC Narrow Fabrics.

Crisco's sons, who work for the company, told Lawson about their dad's death.

It wasn't immediately clear what will happen in the Democratic primary. Fewer than 400 votes separated Crisco and Aiken, who was leading, after the contest last Tuesday. The spokesman and the executive director of the State Board of Elections did not return messages.

The winner will face Republican incumbent Renee Ellmers in November in the GOP-leaning 2nd Congressional District.

Crisco had been North Carolina's top business recruiter for four years under former Gov. Beverly Perdue, who left office in 2013. Crisco was born to a Republican family on a dairy farm and earned an MBA from Harvard University. He spent a year in President Richard Nixon's Commerce Department and had a career in textile manufacturing.

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