(USA TODAY) -- Clay Aiken's chief rival for the Democratic nomination for Congress died unexpectedly on Monday.
The news of Keith Crisco's death was first reported by The Courier-Tribune in Asheboro, N.C. A grieving woman who answered the telephone at Asheboro Elastics Corp., which Crisco co-founded, confirmed the news to USA TODAY and said the company's workers were in shock. Crisco was 71 years old.
Aiken, a former American Idol runner-up, was narrowly leading Crisco for the Democratic nomination in North Carolina's 2nd Congressional District. State elections officials were counting all the ballots, and the nine counties in the district were to report their official canvass of votes by Tuesday.
Crisco is a former North Carolina secretary of Commerce and a former member of the Asheboro City Council.