Former American Idol singer Clay Aiken won what had been a hotly contested Democratic primary for a North Carolina congressional seat according to a final, unofficial vote count that was posted on Tuesday, a day after the accidental death of his closest rival.
Aiken will face Republican incumbent Renee Ellmers in November in the Republican-leaning district.
The county-by-county tally of the Second Congressional District race confirmed Aiken got more than 40 per cent of the vote needed to win the three-candidate race.
On Monday, second-place finisher Keith Crisco, 71, died after falling at his home. Hours earlier, campaign manager Christine Botta said they had counted the absentee votes in two key counties, forcing Crisco to acknowledge defeat. He had decided to concede his loss to Aiken on Tuesday, she said.
"Keith and I talked in detail about the fact that the votes weren't there," Botta said.
Aiken is an openly gay man in a district populated with many socially conservative, evangelical Christians. He said that during the primary he was never asked about his orientation except by reporters.
Aiken issued a statement of regret at Crisco's death on Monday and suspended campaign activities. His campaign declined to comment on Tuesday on his win because of that decision.