Keith Crisco

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Keith Crisco, former state Commerce secretary and a Democratic candidate for the 2nd Congressional District, died on Monday.

Details were not immediately available, but the Courier-Tribune in Asheboro reported that he died suddenly at his home from a fall.

Elizabeth Diaz, an employee at Crisco's textile company, Asheboro Elastics, confirmed that the 71-year-old had passed away Monday afternoon.

Brad Crone, a political strategist and longtime friend of Crisco's, said he had just spoken to Crisco Monday morning. They were finalizing plans to announce on Tuesday morning that he would concede the election to Clay Aiken.

Aiken and Crisco, along with Toni Morris of Fayetteville, were vying to win the Democratic nomination to challenge U.S. Rep. Renee Ellmers in November. Aiken led after Election Day with 369 votes, but not all the ballots had been counted. There weren't enough outstanding ballots to change the outcome of the election, but if Aiken's margin of victory narrowed Crisco could have called for a recount.

"I just think he felt like he had a lot to give back to the district," Crone said. "That's why he decided to run. He was just a straight-up guy. He worked really hard on the campaign. It's just shocking news."

Crisco, raised on a farm in Stanly County, was a longtime resident of Asheboro in Randolph County, where he served on the local school board and city council. He served as secretary of Commerce under Gov. Bev Perdue.

He was married and had three children and six grandchildren.

- News & Observer
Published in Charlotte Observer on May 12, 2014
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