Clay Aiken suspends campaign after opponent dies

Clay Aiken’s main opponent in the still-contested Democratic primary election for a seat in the House of Representatives died suddenly today, and the former American Idol runner-up announced he was suspending his campaign. Keith Crisco, 71, died after falling at his home.

He was 369 votes behind Clay, and “planned to concede his campaign for Congress” tomorrow, the News & Observer reports. A friend and political strategist told the paper that this morning, “they finalized plans to announce on Tuesday that he would concede the election and call Aiken to congratulate him,” and “had already notified Aiken’s campaign staff of the plans.”

Aiken’s web site is now offline, replaced with this message:

“I am stunned and deeply saddened by Keith Crisco’s death. 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.

I am suspending all campaign activities as we pray for his family and friends.”

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about the writer

Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 36, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.