WINSTON-SALEM, North Carolina (Reuters) - “American Idol” runner-up Clay Aiken won the Democratic nomination for a U.S. congressional seat in North Carolina on Tuesday, a day after his main challenger died from a fall, official results showed.
Aiken, 35, earned the party’s nod in the 2nd congressional district by just 390 votes over opponent Keith Crisco, according to a final ballot count from the May 6 primary.
Crisco, a former North Carolina commerce secretary, did not immediately concede the election last week, saying the race was too close to call.
The contest took an unexpected turn on Monday, when Crisco, 71, died after a fall at his home in Asheboro. Friends told local media he had planned to concede on Tuesday.
The official tally of votes reported by the nine counties in the district showed Aiken with 40.86 percent and Crisco with 39.49 percent, enough to avoid both a recount and runoff had Crisco lived.
Third-place finisher Toni Morris took 19.65 percent of the vote.
After news of Crisco’s death, Aiken said would temporarily halt campaign activities.
Aiken’s 2003 “Idol” appearance launched a successful singing career, but he took a break from performing to run for Congress in his home state. He will face Republican incumbent U.S. Representative Renee Ellmers in November.
Reporting by Colleen Jenkins; Editing by Nick Zieminski