Election 2014

Clay Aiken wins Democratic congressional primary race

RALEIGH- As the political community mourns the sudden death of Congressional candidate Keith Crisco results from last week’s primary race were certified by Election officials. Clay Aiken was declared the winner.

Tuesday’s Wake County Board of Elections meeting to certify vote totals began with a moment of silence for Keith Crisco. The Democratic candidate locked in a tight Congressional race died suddenly on Monday after falling at his home in Asheboro.

“I only met the man a couple times when he was Secretary Crisco. Seemed to be involved in public service for all the right reasons,” said Wake County Board of Elections Chair David Robinson.

As county and then state Election officials certified results, candidate Clay Aiken emerged as the Democratic nominee. But the results seem secondary.

“We have business to do but we are still thinking of his family and what they are going through at this time,” said Wake County Board of Elections Director Cherie Poucher.

In the wake of Crisco’s death Clay Aiken announced on Monday he was suspending his campaign. And on a day when he would’ve given a victory speech Clay Aiken did not release any statements as the results were finalized.

“This is not a time for a victory speech. It was a very closely contested race and then his opponent passes away,” said David McLennan with William Peace University.

McLennan says pausing to pay respects to Crisco is the right move for Aiken, but expects Aiken won’t be off the campaign trail for long.

“I think what he’ll do is ease back into the race and speak well of Keith Crisco and what Keith Crisco has meant to North Carolina,” said McLennan.

On a day when the Aiken campaign claimed victory the focus remains on his opponent and his service throughout North Carolina.

– Andy Mattison

Congressional candidate, former commerce sec. Keith Crisco dies at 71

Keith Crisco

Congressional candidate Keith Crisco was found dead at his home Monday afternoon.

He fell at his home on Thayer Drive in Asheboro around 1 p.m. His wife called 911 after the fall. Emergency workers reported he was dead at the scene.

Crisco was in the running for the U.S. House District 2 primary against Clay Aiken. He told Capital Tonight anchor Tim Boyum in March that he felt like his experience would benefit North Carolina in Congress.

“I looked around and I felt like Washington was spending a lot of time on the fringes,” he said. “This country cannot be governed from the fringes. It must be governed from the middle. That’s what I do. That’s what I did in four years as secretary of commerce, and I felt those abilities could be used in Washington.”

Because of Aiken’s celebrity, the race got national attention, with Crisco, a conservative Democrat, working to get his name out and known in the conservative-leaning 2nd District. The race between Crisco and Aiken turned ugly, when Crisco’s campaign ran ads hitting Aiken on absenteeism from board meetings for non-profits benefiting children. Aiken’s campaign accused Crisco of lying.

No winner has been declared in the race, but Crisco was behind Aiken by less than 400 votes. Longtime friend and Democratic consultant Brad Crone confirmed that Crisco planned to contact Aiken Tuesday morning and concede the race.

Before he ran for Congress, Crisco served as state Commerce Secretary from 2009 to 2012 under former Gov. Bev Perdue. Crisco was widely respected on both sides of the political aisle for his work in economic development. He also owned and operated an elastics business in Asheboro, in a time when the textile industry in North Carolina was declining. His political career also included stints on the Asheboro City Council and the Asheboro City School Board.

Crisco grew up on a farm in Aquadale, in Stanly County, and attended Pfieffer University. He received a masters of business administration from Harvard University. He was a White House Fellow and spent years in the textile industry. He also served on boards at Pfieffer, Bennett College, and N.C. Center for Public Policy Research.

He is survived by his wife of 49 years, Jane; three children, and six grandchildren.

His family said in a statement that they are “heartbroken:”

We are heartbroken to share the news that Keith has passed away after an accidental fall at his home this afternoon. Keith was our loving husband, father, grandfather, brother and friend. He was a remarkable man with a tremendous dedication to his family and to public service. We appreciate the outpouring of love from our family and friends and all who knew him. While we mourn the loss of our beloved Keith, we ask the media to respect our privacy at this time.

From across the political spectrum, reaction to Crisco’s death was one of shock and sadness.

Clay Aiken, Crisco’s primary opponent, released this statement late Monday afternoon:

I am stunned and deeply saddened by Keith Crisco’s death. Keith came from humble beginnings. No matter how high he rose – to Harvard, to the White House and to the Governor’s Cabinet – he never forgot where he came from. He was a gentleman, a good and honorable man and an extraordinary public servant. I was honored to know him. I am suspending all campaign activities as we pray for his family and friends.

Crisco’s old boss, former Gov. Bev Perdue, said he was one of the state’s giants:

Bob and I are devastated to learn that our good friend Keith Crisco has died.  He and Jane were tremendous personal friends as well as colleagues. Keith was a great North Carolinian who always did what he believed was best for his county, his state and his country. Political parties and perception were never part of his decision making. I asked him to leave Asheboro Elastics to be Commerce Secretary during the worst economic times since the Great Depression. He accepted that responsibility without hesitation because he loved this state and wanted to help when times were hard. His efforts helped in attracting more than 120,000 jobs as he worked across our state in both rural and urban areas and around the world to bring new jobs, expand existing jobs and stabilize our economy. Keith was one of North Carolina’s giants who made a real difference everyday he lived. He was active in local issues and loved The Lord. His wife Jane and their wonderful family were central to his life. Bob and I send our prayers and love to them and give thanks for their sacrifice in letting Keith share his life with us and the people of this state.

Gov. Pat McCrory said he and Crisco had a lasting friendship:

My heart sank, like so many other people who admired Keith Crisco, when I learned of his sudden passing. While I was a mayor, and now as governor, Keith was a partner, collaborator and strong advocate for the state he loved. Although Keith was a Democrat and a Pfeiffer University graduate, and I went to Catawba and am a Republican, nothing could stop Keith Crisco from building a lasting friendship. North Carolina was blessed and is a better state because of his leadership.

State Democratic Party Chairman Randy Voller said Crisco was “brilliant problem-solver:”

I got to know Secretary Crisco when Governor Perdue appointed him to be her Secretary of Commerce. Keith was a brilliant problem solver who liked to make good, solid public policy. He would have made a great Congressman and I know he felt strongly that the Second Congressional District needed new leadership in Washington. The Democratic family and North Carolina has lost a strong leader and our condolences go out to the Crisco family and community.

State Republican Party Chairman Claude Pope noted the similarities between Crisco and his own father, Claude Pope Sr., who served as commerce secretary under former Gov. Jim Martin:

We are incredibly shocked and saddened to hear about Keith Crisco’s sudden passing. Keith was an accomplished businessman and public servant with a sterling reputation and a tremendous amount of respect from North Carolinians across the partisan spectrum. Keith, like my father, served the state as Commerce Secretary with dignity and humility, and also like my father, passed away well before his time. Keith’s family is in our thoughts and prayers during this very difficult time.

House Speaker Thom Tillis said Crisco was one of the state’s widely-respected public servants:

My deepest condolences go out to the Crisco family on the passing of one of our state’s most widely-respected public officials, Keith Crisco. I was honored to work with him on many issues that positively impacted the people of North Carolina, and I was struck by his professionalism and dedication to the citizens he served. He never wavered in his determination to improve the state he was so proud to call home. We will keep his family in our thoughts and prayers during this difficult time.

Funeral arrangements are incomplete at this time.

– Ben McNeely

Vote counting continues in District 2 as no candidate declares victory or defeat

WAKE COUNTY, N.C. — Election officials continue counting votes from last week’s primary race.

A few races remain too close too call, including the Democratic congressional race in District Two between Clay Aiken and Keith Crisco. The margin difference between Aiken and Crisco is 1.29 percent.

The latest returns show Aiken in the lead by less than 400 votes but the margin for a possible recount, or a run off, is very close which makes counting outstanding ballots crucial in determining the District Two race.

“There are a number of races in the state that are close. We’re no stranger to close elections. What we want to ensure is that we are deliberately reporting to you exactly what we have to date,” said Josh Lawson with the NC Board of Elections.

With the race so close neither candidate declared victory or defeat last week. In a statement following the primary Crisco said:

“This election is still very tight. 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.”

If the vote totals change, Crisco could request a recount if the margin difference is less than 1 percent. There is also the potential for a runoff if Aiken’s share of the vote drops below 40 percent.

Monday’s provisional vote count is just the beginning.

“Tuesday, [May 13] is county canvass. At that point each county has to report to the state what they believe is the final complete total for Election Day and absentee,” said Lawson.

As it stands now, Aiken has 40.83 percent of the vote and needs to stay above 40 percent to avoid a run off.

Aiken’s campaign also release a statement last week saying as the votes come in they are more and more excited about the campaign’s ability to move forward.


Watch the video here.

State Board of Elections to fine tune website after display errors

RALEIGH — The State Board of Election is dealing with some growing pains after rolling out a new system of reporting election data on its website.

Officials admit the number of precincts reporting was inconsistent on Tuesday night as results came in.

“The first thing we’re doing is determining what went wrong. There were difficulties in displaying data,” said Josh Lawson with the NC Board of Elections.

Tuesday night glitches on the State Board of Elections website caused headaches for many as incorrect numbers were displayed.

“What we had difficulty with is the number of precincts reporting and the total number of precincts. What is new is the way counties report to us and the way we report their totals on the new website,” said Lawson.

The board maintains vote totals were accurate. However, a number of users witnessed dramatic fluctuation in vote totals for some races. Durham County Board of Elections said the site wasn’t reporting any numbers for their races until close to 9 p.m.

“Our tabulation process has remained constant and is not new this year,” said Lawson.

What is new this year is an in-house reporting system. In prior elections an outside vendor was used to help run its website, but it came with a hefty price tag.

“For a suite of services we [paid the vendor] about $6.8 million. So we’ve been able to replace all the services at a savings of 90 percent,” said Lawson.

The House Elections Committee ensures policies are carried out by the board. Representative David Lewis said he’s confident they can overcome this hurdle.

“The elections results themselves were not in question. It was simply a short lived reporting error that was corrected as soon as it was discovered,”said Rep. David Lewis, a Harnett County Republican.

As for the State Board of Elections, they said they will continue to comb through the system before the next election day. The Wake County Board of Elections also reported a discrepancy with the state board’s website and uploaded its own results to the county website.

Meanwhile, the State Board of Elections says the new in house reporting system saved about $1 Million a year.

– Linnie Supall

Aiken, Crisco race too close to call

RALEIGH — Incumbent U.S. Rep. Renee Ellmers won the Republican Party primary on Tuesday in closely watched congressional seats.

According to unofficial results, Ellmers, a 50-year-old nurse from Dunn, beat former foreign currency trader Frank Roche of Cary to win the GOP nomination in North Carolina’s 2nd Congressional District.

There’s still no clear winner in the Democratic congressional primary race in North Carolina involving former American Idol runner-up Clay Aiken. He led textile entrepreneur and former commerce secretary Keith Crisco by less than 400 votes after yesterday’s voting in the 2nd Congressional District.

Keith Crisco

“Clay had tremendous name recognition. We had name recognition within the business community but not overall. So we had quite different perspectives,” said Crisco.

The winner eventually will face Ellmers in November

Prior to her primary win, Ellmers hit the campaign trail traveling to polling sites in the district encouraging voters to pick her for a third term.

She faced conservative radio talk show host Frank Roche, who was also campaigning in Cary.

If re-elected, Ellmers said she’ll continue to try and repeal the Affordable Care Act, work to reform immigration laws and rein in spending.

The 2nd District covers a number of areas from Randolph to Wake and Cumberland Counties.

Phil Berger Jr., Mark Walker headed to 6th District GOP runoff

GREENSBORO— Rockingham County District Attorney Phil Berger Jr. got the most votes in Tuesday primary for North Carolina’s 6th District, but it wasn’t quite enough to avoid a run off against Mark Walker.

After watching the polls for a few hours, Phil Berger Jr. was ready to celebrate.

“It looks like we’re winning every county,” said Berger.

He needed 40 percent of the vote to seal the Republican nomination and avoid a runoff for the 6th congressional district. Although he finished with the most votes, he fell just short of that mark.

“We are well positioned moving onto the next phase because as you see we have loyal volunteers. We’ve got a strong fundraising base and we’ve got a message that’s right for America,” Berger said.

Walker expects the runoff to be close.

“Taking on a family, like the Berger family, which is probably 85, 90 percent name recognition, really two of them, state senator as well as the district attorney from Rockingham County,” said Walker.

The Republican runoff will take place on July 15.

Early Tuesday evening, Democrat Laura Fjeld won against her opponent Bruce Davis and will face off against the winner of the Republican runoff come November.

The 6th District covers parts of Guilford, Alamance and Granville Counties, and Caswell, Rockingham, Surry, Person and Stokes Counties.

– Chad Mira and Caitlin Lockerbie

Alma Adams wins District 12 Dem race, faces Vince Coakley in November

GREENSBORO — The November ticket is set for U.S. House District 12.

Alma Adams has declared victory in the Democratic primary. She’ll face Vince Coakley in the fall.

Democrat Alma Adams was up against six other candidates including Malcolm Graham and George Battle.

In her victory speech, Adams thanked volunteers and pointed out the issues she plans to work on in if she wins and goes to Washington.

Adams also promised to continue to support President Obama on healthcare reform.


Rouzer wins GOP nod in open NC 7th House District

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Republican David Rouzer gets another chance to win the North Carolina congressional district he lost two years ago by a razor-thin margin

Rouzer won Tuesday’s Republican primary against Woody White and Chris Andrade in the 7th Congressional District.

There is no incumbent running since Democrat Mike McIntyre is retiring after nine terms. McIntyre narrowly beat Rouzer two years ago despite the state’s Republican-dominated Legislature drawing the district lines to favor Republicans.

Rouzer will face New Hanover County Commissioner Jonathan Barfield who beat retired Smithfield police officer Walter A. Martin, Jr. in the Democratic primary.

Rouzer worked for former U.S. Sens. Jesse Helms and Elizabeth Dole, in President George W. Bush’s Agriculture Department. He then was elected to the state Senate.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


Tillis wins NC Senate GOP primary, will face Hagan in November

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Thom Tillis has won North Carolina’s Republican Senate primary and will take on Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan in November.

The state House speaker and favorite of national Republican leaders beat seven other candidates Tuesday. He received 45 percent of the vote with more than one-third of precincts reporting unofficial results. He needed more than 40 percent to avoid a runoff.

Tea party favorite Greg Brannon was second at 26 percent, followed by Charlotte pastor Mark Harris at 18 percent.

Tillis ran on his legislative record as an architect of the Republican takeover of state government starting in 2011. Hagan easily won her primary Tuesday against two opponents. There will also be a Libertarian candidate in the fall election. Sean Haugh defeated Tim D’Annunzio to get the Libertarian nod.

Watch Tillis’ victory speech here.

NC voters pick party nominees for US, state races

RALEIGH—North Carolina voters are choosing their parties’ candidates for a competitive U.S. Senate seat, the state Supreme Court and dozens of other state and federal offices.


Local election workers have opened more than 2,700 precinct locations for Tuesday’s primary election. Eight Republicans are seeking their party’s nomination to challenge Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan. She has her own primary against two lesser-known opponents. The Libertarians also are choosing a Senate nominee.

Supreme Court Associate Justice Robin Hudson had two challengers for her seat. The top two-vote getters advance to the November election. In partisan races, a leading candidate needs more than 40 percent of the vote to avoid a summer runoff.

More than 259,000 cast ballots in person during the early-voting period.

Polls close at 7:30 p.m.

Time Warner Cable News has team coverage across the state. Click here to watch the reports.