While incumbent Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC) has been running a tight race with Cal Cunningham, a recent sex scandal involving his Democratic challenger could tilt the remainder of the campaign season in his favor.
Days after text messages he sent to and received from a married woman surfaced, Cunningham canceled a planned town hall event at the last minute in the wake of new claims about another extramarital affair, as reported by Fox News.
A second allegation surfaces
The website National File initially posted the damning texts, prompting a public apology by the Senate hopeful on Friday.
He acknowledged having an affair with Arlene Guzman Todd, the wife of a combat veteran.
Cunningham had been scheduled to take questions on Monday during a town hall, but the moderator announced that he had suddenly backed out of the event.
That development came following a second National File post alleging he had been involved in an affair with the friend of a woman who previously worked for him. That ex-staffer, Erin Brinkman, claimed in a Facebook post that her friend had been involved with Cunningham since 2012.
Brinkman made it clear that her friend was “not the woman mentioned in the story” and claimed the affair started two years after she worked on Cunningham’s state Senate steering committee.
“Taking full responsibility”
“Needless to say, my friend was devastated,” she wrote. “But my feeling is, if they’ll cheat WITH you, they’ll cheat ON you!”
Cunningham expressed remorse for hurting those close to him, but the repercussions could extend beyond his circle of family and friends if it prevents him from unseating a Republican in his party’s quest to regain a majority in the chamber.
“I have hurt my family, disappointed my friends, and am deeply sorry,” he said on Friday. “The first step in repairing those relationships is taking complete responsibility, which I do. I ask that my family’s privacy be respected in this personal matter.”
He said that he is “grateful and humbled by the ongoing support” he has received from voters across the state, promising to spend the remainder of the campaign working “to earn the opportunity to fight for the people of our state.”
Tillis has faced his own last-minute campaign complication with a recent coronavirus diagnosis, though he has reported only mild symptoms. As for the allegations against his rival, the GOP incumbent says Cunningham owes North Carolina voters a “thorough explanation.”