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Singer Clay Aiken’s chief rival for the Democratic nomination for Congress died unexpectedly Monday, about a week after primary voting. Aiken, a former American Idol runner-up, said he will suspend campaign activities to pray for Crisco’s family and friends.

The entertainer was leading Crisco by 369 votes for the Democratic nod in North Carolina’s 2nd Congressional District, but the race was too close to call and still not finalized. The Democratic nominee will go on to face GOP Rep. Renee Ellmers in the fall.

Aiken said in a statement.

“He was a gentleman, a good and honorable man, and an extraordinary public servant. I was honored to know him.”

State elections officials have been counting all the absentee and provisional ballots from last week’s primary, and the nine counties in the district have until Tuesday to report their official canvass of votes. Brad Crone, a political strategist and longtime Crisco friend, told the News & Observer in Raleigh that Crisco was finalizing plans to concede to Aiken.

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American Idol Alum Halts Congressional Run After Opponent Dies  was originally published on