Clay Aiken holds slim lead in primary for Congress

Singer Clay Aiken was clinging to a slim lead early Wednesday in his bid to become a Democratic nominee for Congress in North Carolina.

The former American Idol runner-up was leading former North Carolina Commerce secretary Keith Crisco by 369 votes with more than 99% of the vote counted, according to unofficial returns from the North Carolina Board of Elections. Both candidates were hovering around the 40% mark.

Toni Morris, a licensed professional counselor, was a distant third.

"I am very confident that we are going to be victorious," Aiken told his supporters, according to the ABC affiliate in Raleigh, N.C.

The Democrats are hoping to unseat two-term GOP Rep. Renee Ellmers in a conservative district based in the central part of the state and Fayetteville. Republican Mitt Romney easily carried North Carolina's 2nd District in the 2012 presidential election, winning 58% of the vote.

Crisco outspent Aiken in the primary race and pummeled him on the airwaves. In one campaign ad, Crisco criticized Aiken for missing meetings of the President's Committee for People with Intellectual Disabilities. Aiken was appointed to the commission as his recording career was picking up in the wake of his American Idol appearance in 2003, during the reality TV show's second season.

Aiken has stressed his upbringing by a single mother and background as a special education teacher in his campaign.

Ellmers defeated Frank Roche, who criticized her stance on immigration policy, in the GOP primary. The congresswoman is chair of the Republican Women's Policy Committee.


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