North Carolina Democrat Cal Cunningham, who is running to unseat incumbent GOP Senator Thom Tillis, found himself involved in a sex scandal late on Friday night. The Charlotte News-Observer reported that Cunningham admitted to sending a series of sexual messages to a woman other than his wife; the National File first reported alleged texts between Cunningham and a California public relations strategist, Arlene Guzman Todd, that his campaign confirmed to be authentic.
Cunningham ranks as a Lieutenant Colonel in the Army Reserve and Todd is married to a veteran, so their plans to engage in an extramarital affair would violate the Uniform Code of Military Justice and risk court martial. The messages show Cunningham and Todd hoping to “kiss a lot,” and “ditch a staffer” during a campaign event.
These are the texts messages between Cal Cunningham and the woman he’s carried on a relationship with DURING his Senate campaign— Jesse Hunt (@JJHunt10) October 3, 2020
“Nervous about the next 100 days” - Cal Cunningham pic.twitter.com/TXb2mdSdR1
“I remain grateful and humbled by the ongoing support that North Carolinians have extended in this campaign, and in the remaining weeks before this election I will continue to work to earn the opportunity to fight for the people of our state,” he said.
The Republican Senate arm said that Cunningham must “come clean with voters,” and tell the full story.
“These are very troubling allegations and Cal needs to be fully transparent with the voters of North Carolina. We know there is more to this story, Cal knows there is more to this story, and he needs to come clean with voters so they can make the appropriate judgement on whether he’s fit for office,” said NRSC communications director Jesse Hunt.
The Democrats' Senate arm, however, deflected from addressing the sex scandal that continues to gain national attention.
“North Carolinians are supporting Cal because he will protect health care coverage for pre-existing conditions, fight to bring down the costs of prescription drugs, and help our country recover from this crisis. We are confident that he will bring the same courage and determination to the Senate as he has while serving our country in uniform," Lauren Passalacqua, a spokesperson for the DSCC, told Politico.
North Carolina’s Senate contest could decide which party controls power in the upper chamber. Cunningham was slightly favored in the race before this scandal broke, but these developments could shake-up the race.