RALEIGH, N.C. -
The Democratic congressional primary race between former "American Idol" runner-up Clay Aiken and textile entrepreneur Keith Crisco remained very close and without a clear winner.
Aiken and Crisco each had about 40 percent of the vote, trailed by licensed family counselor Toni Morris of Fayetteville in Tuesday's primary race in the 2nd Congressional District.
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.
Crisco is a former secretary of the North Carolina Department of Commerce and has emphasized his ability to help create jobs for North Carolinians.
The district includes parts of southwest Wake County, sweeps down to Dunn and parts of Fayetteville and then includes a wide swath to the west, including Southern Pines, Sanford and Asheboro.
The district, though, has a heavy Republican majority, meaning any Democrat will have a tough task against Ellmers in the fall. Ellmers ousted Democratic incumbent Bob Etheridge in 2010. In 2012, she received 56 percent of the vote in beating Democrat Steve Wilkins.
Ellmers was dominant in Chatham, Harnett, Randolph and Moore counties and essentially split the vote in Wake County with Wilkins.
Despite the fact that there are many more Democrats in North Carolina than Republicans – roughly 2.8 million to 2 million – the GOP has a big advantage in Moore and Randolph counties, which aided Ellmers.
Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. WNCN contributed to this article
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