North Carolina House Democratic primary featuring Clay Aiken too close to call

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by AP

The contest between entertainer turned political candidate Clay Aiken and textile entrepreneur Keith Crisco remains too close to call in the Democratic congressional primary in North Carolina.

With all precincts reporting early Wednesday, Aiken, once a runner-up on TV's "American Idol," led Crisco by 369 votes in the 2nd Congressional District. In total, Aiken received 40.8 percent of the approximately 28,500 votes cast to Crisco's 39.5 percent. The race's third candidate, licensed family counselor Toni Morris, received 19.6 percent of the vote.

Aiken's first political campaign drew an unusual amount of celebrity buzz thanks to his singing career and a second-place finish on "Celebrity Apprentice." Crisco spent four years as the state's top business recruiter under under former Democratic Gov. Beverly Perdue.

The primary winner will challenge incumbent Republican U.S. Rep. Renee Ellmers in November. Ellmers, first elected in the 2010 tea party wave, handily defeated her challenger in the heavily Republican district.

Aiken has said reporters are the only people asking whether being a gay man could impede his campaign to represent such a conservative district. Both he and Crisco touted themselves as centrists.

"We need to stay out of people's bedrooms," Bob Finch, a 57-year-old Democrat from Lee County, said Tuesday.

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