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Earlier this week I wrote about how North Carolina Democratic Senate nominee Cal Cunningham was widely mocked after posting a staged photo of himself in a freshly-ironed campaign-approved apron standing next to a grill talking about how “there’s nothing better than BBQ.”
The reasons why this was such a (humorous) scandal in North Carolina are explained in detail here, but as it turns out goofy photos posted to Twitter are the very least of his problems right now.
Late Friday evening, Cunningham admitted to sexting with a California woman while in the middle of his campaign for the U.S. Senate. While there’s nothing necessarily wrong with sexting in and of itself, it’s a very big problem when you’re a married man with two teenage kids:
The report included pictures of the text messages, in which Cunningham and [Arlene Guzman Todd], who is also married according to the report, talked about kissing each other and more.
“Would make my day to roll over and kiss you about now,” said one text message from Cunningham.
In one text from Guzman, she says: “I have flexibility this month — done with school, training, big RFPs, etc. So the only thing I want on my to do list is you.”
The Cunningham campaign confirmed the authenticity of the text messages.
Cunningham issued a statement apologizing for his behavior after local news outlets confirmed the story first reported Thursday by National File. He also noted he was not dropping out of the Senate race:
From Cal Cunningham:
"I have hurt my family, disappointed my friends, and am deeply sorry. 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."#ncsen #ncpol pic.twitter.com/atvmf6QjJp
— Joe Bruno (@JoeBrunoWSOC9) October 3, 2020
Screengrabs of the text messages are being shared all over Twitter, including by the NRSC:
When I first saw “starch your white shirt and be ready to kiss a lot” I thought this had to be fake.
But it’s real. #NCpol #NCsen https://t.co/X44nuYgMUr pic.twitter.com/YniNCbvgSa
— Matt Whitlock (@mattdizwhitlock) October 3, 2020
The NRSC’s Joanna Rodriguez posted a video clip from an interview that aired earlier this week that did not age well:
Cal Cunningham and his wife sat down with Spectrum News recently. It aired earlier this week, just before news of his sexting broke.
“Elizabeth says as voters evaluate their decision this fall, the man her husband presents himself to be in public is who he is in real life.” pic.twitter.com/O4OARFGgbZ
— Joanna Rodriguez (@joannamrod) October 3, 2020
Others made apt comparisons between Cunningham and former Senator John Edwards, another notorious North Carolina Democrat who got caught cheating on his wife (who was also named Elizabeth):
As to Sen. Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, who all but handpicked Cunningham to be the nominee, I obtained exclusive video of his reaction to the news:
— Sister Toldjah 😁 (@sistertoldjah) October 3, 2020
In addition to admitting he was sexting with a woman who wasn’t his wife, Cunningham also found out Friday that his Republican opponent Sen. Thom Tillis tested positive for the coronavirus. Because the two of them had a debate Thursday, Cunningham said he will be tested, too.
Cunningham has consistently led Tillis in the polls, and only time will tell if this scandal will have any negative impact on his campaign beyond a few days of bad press. The North Carolina political press has a bad habit of only doing bare minimum obligatory reporting on scandals involving Democrats, so I look for this story to disappear in a few days.