Clay Aiken Leads Congressional Primary Election; Results Too Close to Call

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Singer Clay Aiken is clinging to a slim lead early Wednesday in his bid to become the Democratic nominee for his U.S. House district in North Carolina.

The American Idol runner-up is leading former North Carolina Commerce Secretary Keith Crisco by 369 votes with more than 99 percent of the vote counted.

(UPDATE: Crisco has died and Aiken has suspended his campaign, though he's expected to move on and face Republican incumbent Renee Ellmers for the seat in Congress.)

Both candidates are hovering around the 40 percent mark, results show, while Toni Morris, a licensed professional counselor, was a distant third place.

An official winner may not be announced for days as recounts and challenges are all but certain in a race this close, but Aiken is currently out in front.

The winner of North Carolina's Democratic congressional primary race will face incumbent Republican U.S. Rep. Renee Ellmers in November's selection.

Republican Mitt Romney easily carried North Carolina's 2nd District in the 2012 presidential election with 58 percent of the vote, but Ellmers' popularity is suspect.

According to his official campaign site, the 35-year-old Aiken "would like to see a government that works for the people" and "knows change is possible."

Clay Aiken, a trained special education teacher and advocate for those with disabilities as well as a singer, has come under fire from some of his opponents.

Crisco outspent Aiken and pummeled him in TV ads, claiming he missed meetings while on President's Committee for People with Intellectual Disabilities

He can count on support from his former Idol competitor Ruben Studdard - the winner of the Fox show's second season - who spoke out in his defense.

"I'm proud to call him my friend, but you'll be proud to call him your congressman," said Studdard in an ad, sponsored by Aiken's congressional campaign.

"One of his opponents is attacking him for not showing up for some meetings. Truth is, Clay's dedicated his life to helping people with disabilities."

Aiken has also had to deal with the persistent question of whether being a gay man could impede his campaign to represent a conservative district.

Both he and Crisco touted themselves as centrists, and Aiken's response has been that the media is the only source of that question, not the voters.

You tell us: Clay Aiken for Congress?


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