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North Carolina

Aiken race is still too close to call

Former ‘Idol’ singer holds a slight edge

Clay Aiken speaks to supporters during an election night watch party in Holly Springs, N.C., Tuesday, May 6, 2014. Aiken is seeking the Democratic nomination for North Carolina's 2nd Congressional District. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)

Clay Aiken speaks to supporters during an election night watch party in Holly Springs, N.C., Tuesday, May 6, 2014. Aiken is seeking the Democratic nomination for North Carolina's 2nd Congressional District. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)

Former American Idol runner-up Clay Aiken held a slight edge over textile entrepreneur Keith Crisco in a North Carolina congressional primary election yesterday, with officials working to count every last ballot before declaring a winner.

There were fewer than 400 votes separating the Democratic Party candidates in the Republican-leaning 2nd Congressional District. The winner faces Republican incumbent Renee Ellmers – who was first elected in the Tea Party wave of 2010 – in November.

Both Aiken and Crisco, once the state’s top business recruiter under Gov. Beverly Perdue, have cast themselves as centrists. Both will have to overcome the district’s strong bloc of evangelical Christian voters who tend to vote Republican. Aiken has said previously that he doesn’t believe the fact he is gay will affect whether people vote for him.

The state elections board yesterday showed the latest unofficial results giving Aiken the 40 percent of the tally that he needs to avoid a runoff election in July and a margin big enough that Crisco can’t request a recount.

Aiken was watching the numbers, spokeswoman Tucker Middleton said. “It’s close, but we’re confident,” she said.

But almost 400 absentee ballots issued had not been returned, according to data provided yesterday by the state elections board. Absentee ballots and provisional ballots – those cast by voters who may not be properly registered – won’t be tallied until Tuesday, state elections board spokesman Josh Lawson said.

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