North Carolina Democratic Senate candidate Cal Cunningham abruptly ended plans for a town hall appearance scheduled for Monday night after he was exposed for sending inappropriate text messages to a woman that is not his wife.
With only a month to go until election day, the race between GOP Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC) and Cunningham was already tight, but Cunningham’s poor judgement may have derailed Democrat plans to retake the Senate.
Lapse in judgement
WUNC reported on Monday that Cunningham appeared to be “backing out” of a scheduled appearance, though organizers hope to reschedule.
The website NationalFile.com published steamy text messages between Cunningham — who has been married to wife Elizabeth for 20 years — and public relations strategist, Arlene Guzman Todd, last week.
Cunningham told Guzman Todd that it “would make my day to roll over and kiss you about now,” in one of the published messages, to which she replies, “You’re so sweet. I would enjoy that.” Another shows Guzman Todd telling Cunningham, “the only thing I want on my to-do list is you.” The married Cunningham replied: “Sounds so hot and so fun!”
Cunningham apologized for the inappropriate texts on Friday, but the race has still been upended. A second allegation that Cunningham has not admitted to comes from Erin Brinkman, a lawyer who served on Cunningham’s state Senate steering committee from 2009 to 2010.
Brinkman accused Cunningham of carrying on an affair with a friend of hers since 2012, according to a Facebook comment published by the NationalFile.com on Monday.
Cunningham’s success is critical to the Democrat party’s plan to overtake the Senate in the 2020 election in order to completely control congress. Democrats only need to flip a few seats, and Cunningham appeared to be a likely contender to do so.
Fox News reported that “Cunningham has led in polls throughout the summer and raked in a record-setting $28.3 million in donations over the past three months,” but his massive success to this point may have come to a screeching halt.
Tillis called Cunningham out, saying that constituents deserve a “full explanation” and that Cunningham’s status in the military could warrant disciplinary action.
“Cal is trying to finesse it as an errant text, but we now have a second report,” Tillis told “Fox & Friends” on Tuesday. “Cal owes the people of North Carolina a full explanation. On the debate stage last week, Cal said it’s about integrity and I agree. His family should be kept private, he’s got teenage children but Cal owes North Carolinians, all of the voters a full and thorough explanation.”
“He is an officer in the military,” Tillis added. “He’s also subject to disciplinary action just on the basis of what he’s admitted to.”