clay-aiken-congressA day after his opponent died unexpectedly from a fall, Clay Aiken has emerged as the Democratic nominee for a Congressional seat in North Carolina. The state Board of Elections said that Aiken held enough lead over the late Keith Crisco to avoid a runoff. Aiken and Crisco were both seeking the Democratic nomination, but the results of last week’s election were too close to call.

In the end, Aiken ran ahead of Crisco by 450 votes. While the final count has yet to be certified, that’s just a formality. The former American Idol runner-up is the party’s choice to challenge Republican Renee Ellmers. Aiken has an actual shot at winning the seat, but it won’t be easy. The district went for Mitt Romney with 58% of the vote in 2012.

Aiken wasn’t available to take a victory lap, having suspended his campaign out of respect to Crisco. He did get some words of support from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. “We are confident that Clay Aiken will run an aggressive campaign to hold Congresswoman Ellmers accountable for losing touch with the people of North Carolina,” said David Bergstein, a Committee spokesman.

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