'American Idol' runner-up Clay Aiken has edge in U.S. Congress race

WINSTON-SALEM N.C. Wed May 7, 2014 10:34pm IST

Democratic nominee Clay Aiken signs an autograph for a constituent after a campaign forum in Cary, North Carolina, April 28, 2014. REUTERS/Colleen Jenkins/Files

Democratic nominee Clay Aiken signs an autograph for a constituent after a campaign forum in Cary, North Carolina, April 28, 2014.

Credit: Reuters/Colleen Jenkins/Files

WINSTON-SALEM N.C. (Reuters) - "American Idol" runner-up Clay Aiken held a narrow lead on Wednesday in his bid to become the Democratic nominee for a North Carolina congressional seat but could face a recount with a challenger who trails by fewer than 400 votes.

Aiken won 40.83 percent of the vote in the 2nd congressional district primary on Tuesday, putting him just ahead of former North Carolina commerce secretary Keith Crisco's 39.54 percent, according to unofficial results from the state elections board.

Aiken, 35, surpassed the 40 percent of votes needed to avoid a runoff, but North Carolina law allows for a recount when the spread between the top two finishers is 1 percent or less.

Crisco, 71, said the election remained too close to call but did not signal whether he would request a recount.

"This election is still very tight," he said. "I want the elections officials to have an opportunity to tally the votes and provide a report on their canvass activities to allow all the campaigns a chance to see the final numbers."

Aiken's campaign did not immediately comment on the results on Wednesday.

The entertainer's first foray into politics brought celebrity buzz and national attention to the Democratic contest, which pitted him against Crisco, an Asheboro businessman, and Fayetteville counselor Toni Morris, 49.

Aiken, who taught special education in North Carolina before his 2003 "Idol" appearance, earned respect from voters and pundits by proving knowledgeable about policy issues. He was outspent by Crisco, who ran four television ads compared to Aiken's one.

The primary vote tally, which included 19.63 percent for Morris, could change as provisional ballots and some additional absentee votes are counted, said state elections board spokesman Josh Lawson.

The winner will challenge U.S. Representative Renee Ellmers, the Republican incumbent who beat her primary opponent with nearly 59 percent of the vote on Tuesday. Political analysts predict a tough slog for Democrats in the conservative district they say was redrawn to favor the Republican party.

(Editing by Scott Malone and James Dalgleish)

REUTERS SHOWCASE

Lakhvi's Bail

Lakhvi's Bail

Pakistan court bails man accused of masterminding Mumbai attack.  Full Article 

PM's Moves

PM's Moves

Modi moves in to speed up $300 billion stuck projects.  Full Article 

Coal Unions

Coal Unions

Coal India workers threaten five-day strike, stokes output worries.  Full Article 

Space Programme

Space Programme

ISRO tests its heaviest space launch vehicle, eyes global market.  Full Article 

Peshawar attack

Peshawar Attack

Some Pakistan militants denounce school attack, amid national outrage.  Full Article 

Uber Again

Uber Again

Uber driver in Boston charged with kidnapping and rape.  Full Article 

Discounts

Discounts

Dealers offer gold discount for first time in five months.  Full Article 

"PK" in Cinemas

"PK" in Cinemas

Secret of year's "biggest" Bollywood film is its plot.  Full Article 

Reuters India Mobile

Reuters India Mobile

Get the latest news on the go. Visit Reuters India on your mobile device   Full Coverage