Clay Aiken Suspends Campaign Following Keith Crisco's Passing — UPDATE

May 12, 9:20PM

Following the news of Crisco's passing, Clay Aiken has decided to suspend his campaign. Said the singer and former reality star in a statement:

I am stunned and deeply saddened by Keith Crisco's 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. 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.

May 12, 5:35PM

Sad news on Monday: Keith Crisco, Clay Aiken's challenger in his North Carolina congressional bid, has died in a home accident. Crisco was found dead by emergency services Monday, and while the cause of death hasn’t been confirmed, early reports suggest that Crisco succumbed to injuries stemming from a fall. He was 71 years old. Crisco and Aiken were both vying for the Democratic nomination to represent North Carolina’s 2nd Congressional District.

After primary night, however, the race was too close to call, with Aiken preliminarily leading Crisco by just 369 votes. Crisco hadn’t yet conceded and a protracted recount was likely. Now, Aiken will presumably be the nominee, although the State Board of Elections hasn’t made an official announcement yet.

“The State Board of Elections is saddened to hear of the passing of Keith Crisco,” it said in a statement. “A native of North Carolina, we are grateful for Mr. Crisco’s service to our state and his community through the years. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Crisco family during this difficult time.”

Crisco was a White House fellow in the Nixon administration and sat on the Asheboro city council from 2003-2009. He then served as secretary of the North Carolina Department of Commerce before stepping down in 2012.