Former American Idol runner-up Clay Aiken is now the de facto Democratic nominee for North Carolina's 2nd Congressional District after his opponent was found dead on Monday afternoon.
Aiken was running against Keith Crisco, a local businessman who had been involved with the state's Democratic Party for years. Both men were born and raised in North Carolina. According to the Asheboro Courier-Tribune, Crisco, 70, suffered injuries around 1 p.m. on Monday afternoon after he fell in his home. By the time emergency responders got to the scene, he was dead.
The race to run against incumbent Republican Rep. Renee Elmers was a close one: After last week's primary, officials said Aiken was just barely leading over Crisco by about 400 votes. Authorities planned to announce the final count tomorrow. Now that Crisco has suffered an untimely demise, Aiken is the default winner, and is now a legitimate Congressional candidate.
Clay Aiken released a statement expressing sympathy for Crisco's family and said he would be suspending campaign activity for the time being.
No foul play is suspected at this time, though Ruben Studdard notably could not be reached for comment.