Keith Crisco, who was running against former "American Idol" star Clay Aiken in the Democratic primary for a North Carolina House seat, died unexpectedly on Monday. The 71-year-old North Carolina native was reportedly hurt in a fall at around 1 p.m. at his Asheboro home.
Information is limited so far, but the Asheboro Courier-Tribune says Crisco was pronounced dead on the scene when first responders arrived at his home.
Crisco was born and raised on a dairy farm in Aquadale. He was graduated from Harvard University with a master of business administration in 1968. He spent years in the textile industry and a year as an assistant to the secretary of commerce in 1970. In the late 1970s he moved to Asheboro to become president of Stedman Elastics, before founding Asheboro Elastics Corporation in 1986. The company employs 200 people.
He served on a number of Asheboro local boards and in 2008 became secretary of the North Carolina Department of Commerce.
After votes were counted in last week's Democratic primary Aiken led Crisco for North Carolina’s 2nd Congressional District by only 369 votes. Reports say Crisco was waiting for the official numbers to decide whether to request a recount, but a source close to him said Crisco was planning to concede.
The State Board of Elections has not yet announced what will happen with the election, but the winner will face Republican incumbent Renee Ellmers for the 2nd District seat in November.
Aiken released a statement saying he was “stunned and deeply saddened” by Crisco’s sudden 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,” said Aiken. “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.”
Crisco is survived by his wife of 49 years, Jane, their three children and six grandchildren.