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.
The Associated Press declared it too close to call late Tuesday night.
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.
If he wins the nomination, Aiken's fight will be uphill: Ellmers, a second-term Republican who was ushered into Congress in 2010, was re-elected with 56 percent of the vote in 2012, and her district tilts strongly to the right.
"This district would be difficult for any Democrat to win," explained CBS News Election Director Anthony Salvanto. "It's a heavily Republican district. President Obama got just 42 percent of the vote there in 2012."