Clay Aiken’s political opponent dies suddenly

Democratic primary candidate Keith Crisco, who was in a contest still too close to call with former “American Idol” runner-up Clay Aiken, died suddenly at his home on Monday.

According to news reports, Crisco, 71, died after a fall at his home on Monday afternoon.

The Raleigh News Observer reported that Crisco was going to concede the election to Aiken on Tuesday.

Aiken held a 369 vote lead over Crisco after the Democratic primary for North Carolina’s 2nd Congressional District after the election was held May 6. Aiken will face Republican incumbent Rep. Renee Elmers in November.

In a statement on his website, Aiken said he is suspending his campaign after learning of Crisco’s death.

“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,” Aiken said.

Aiken, who finished second during the second season of “American Idol” in 2003, came out publicly as gay in 2008 in an interview with People magazine.