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The former American Idol runner-up's decision to run as a Democratic nominee for Congress in North Carolina seemed like a joke and a long shot. But it turns out, the out entertainer was leading in the polls late Tuesday night with all districts reporting. But it's unclear if he avoided a runoff between himself and 71-year-old Keith Crisco, a moderate, business-friendly Democrat in the state since he was in the lead by fewer than 400 votes and needed more 40%, plus one vote.
"I am very confident that we are going to be victorious," Aiken told his supporters, according to an ABC affiliate in Raleigh, N.C.
As USA Today notes, Crisco outspent Aiken in the primary race and was highly critical of him in radio ads. In one campaign spot, Crisco criticized Aiken for missing meetings of the President's Committee for People with Intellectual Disabilities. Aiken was appointed to the commission as his recording career was picking up in the wake of his American Idol appearance in 2003, during the reality TV show's second season.
He is one of the most well-known contestants of the series and Aiken, who has a considerably vocal fanbase of middle-aged women, stressed his upbringing by a single mother and background as a special education teacher in his campaign. Last year, he spent his summer in a Maine production of the musical, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.
The winner will face U.S. Rep. Renee Ellmers, a two-term Republican incumbent from Dunn, who defeated GOP challenger Frank Roche, a former radio talk-show host and economist who lives in Cary, according to the Raleigh News & Observer.
Here he is casting his vote: