Singer Clay Aiken is an apparent Democratic nominee for Congress, but final votes released Tuesday must be certified.
The final vote tally by the North Carolina State Board of Elections shows the American Idol runner-up with 11,678 votes to 11,288 for former state Commerce secretary Keith Crisco, who died Monday.
That's a slight increase for Aiken from last week's primary, but more important: The 1.37-percentage-point margin of difference between the candidates would mean no recount in the nail-biter of a race. The Associated Press has called the race for Aiken.
Aiken has suspended campaign activities out of respect for Crisco and his family.
Board of Elections spokesman Josh Lawson said the board must certify the vote totals "even if there is a clear winner." Complaints can be filed about the race, which the board must hear, but Lawson said the board has never overturned a final vote count.
"These are the official results, pending final certification," Lawson said.
Aiken still faces an uphill battle in the general election against GOP Rep. Renee Ellmers, who seeks a third term. North Carolina's 2nd District is a conservative area that Mitt Romney carried in the 2012 presidential election with 58% of the vote.
"We are confident that Clay Aiken will run an aggressive campaign to hold Congresswoman Ellmers accountable for losing touch with the people of North Carolina," said David Bergstein, a spokesman for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.