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Opponent of Clay Aiken in primary dies in accident

By Associated Press

LAST UPDATED: 03:03 p.m. HST, May 12, 2014

ASHEBORO, N.C. >> The entrepreneur who was locked in a too-close-to-call Democratic primary with former "American Idol" singer Clay Aiken died Monday, his family said.

Keith Crisco, 71, died "after an accidental fall" at his home in Asheboro, about 65 miles west of Raleigh, according to a statement from his family.

"He was a remarkable man with a tremendous dedication to his family and to public service," the statement said.

Aiken was leading Crisco by fewer than 400 votes after the contest last Tuesday. Unless Crisco can come from behind during a final tally of the votes this week, Aiken will be the nominee, state elections board spokesman Josh Lawson said. If Crisco does win, local Democrats would select the nominee, Lawson said. The vote is expected to be certified Thursday.

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 Stanly County dairy farm in North Carolina, he said in an interview last month.

"I did pull corn. I did plow. I did milk cows. I did do all the things you do on a small farm," Crisco said.

He got a scholarship to study science at the county's Pfeiffer University. There, he met his wife and her family of yellow-dog Democrats, and Crisco said he converted.

He went to Harvard University to study for a master's of business administration, which he earned in 1968, then returned to North Carolina to work for textile giant Burlington Industries. In the early 1970s, Crisco was selected as a White House Fellow, and he spent a year in President Richard Nixon's Commerce Department.

"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."

In 1986, he and partners formed Asheboro Elastics to produce elastics for home furnishings and medical and industrial uses. He joked that the company's mission was to "hold your underwear up." The company was renamed AEC Narrow Fabrics and is now run by hired executives, his sons and a son-in-law.

His business success allowed him to lend $500,000 to his campaign against Aiken, according to financial statements filed last month.

Crisco won a city council seat in Asheboro and said his business background appealed to independents and Republicans who could help him beat Ellmers in November.

"You cannot win this district with just the Democrat vote. You must have a broad base of support of independents and, yes, some Republicans. And that's what I can bring," Crisco said.

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DownSpout wrote:
"Keith Crisco, 71, died from "some type of fall" at his home" - Slipped on some spilled vegetable shortening?
on May 12,2014 | 12:11PM
Slow wrote:
That's classy.
on May 12,2014 | 12:31PM
dontbelieveinmyths wrote:
Or Clay Aiken's leg.
on May 12,2014 | 12:51PM
LRC wrote:
What political office is Clay running for??
on May 12,2014 | 12:56PM
Denominator wrote:
Read the article.
on May 12,2014 | 01:30PM
kuniagirl wrote:
Ruben died?
on May 12,2014 | 01:59PM
iwanaknow wrote:
Sounds like Clay is a political winner in the Primary but will be wiped out in the General?
on May 12,2014 | 02:19PM
cojef wrote:
If you can't stand to lose,fall!
on May 12,2014 | 03:26PM
sparkyzane wrote:
What kind of mean is it in you to make that kind of remark? Sounds like he was a gentleman a league or two ahead of you.
on May 12,2014 | 04:15PM
Skyler wrote:
Funny. NOT.
on May 13,2014 | 02:04AM
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