North Carolina Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate Cal Cunningham, who is a married father of two, admitted that he sent sexual text messages to a public relations strategist, who is also married with children. On Friday night, Cunningham apologized for his behavior.
"I have hurt my family, disappointed my friends, and am deeply sorry," Cunningham said in a statement. "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. 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."
The sexual text messages were exposed by National File in an article published Thursday.
"North Carolina Democrat U.S. Senate candidate Cal Cunningham is swapping sexts and arranging to meet with the wife of an Army veteran," National File wrote in the article, which features screenshots of the flirty sexts.
The website identified the woman as Arlene Guzman Todd, a "media director of a marijuana public relations company and has been a California State University lecturer." She is married to Jeremy Todd, who like Cunningham is a military veteran, reportedly served 15 years in the Army. The News & Observer reported that Arlene Todd had donated $450 to the Cunningham campaign since April, according to FEC records.
Cunningham allegedly referred to Todd as "historically sexy," and fantasizes about kissing her in the text messages. Todd reportedly wrote, "I want a night with you" via text. She allegedly tells the Senate candidate, "The only thing I want on my to do list is you," and Cunningham reportedly replied, "Sounds so hot and so fun!"
Todd reportedly instructed Cunningham to make up an excuse for his family and ditch a staffer so the two can "kiss a lot."
Cal Cunningham and his wife sat down with Spectrum News recently. It aired earlier this week, just before news of h… https://t.co/fX7MMqHMcf— Joanna Rodriguez (@Joanna Rodriguez)1601699822.0
Cunningham said he won't drop out of the Senate race following the sexting scandal. According to seven different polls, Cunningham leads his opponent, Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), by between 4 to 10 points heading into the election.
Hours before Cunningham's admission and apology, Tillis announced on Friday that he had tested positive for COVID-19.
"Over the last few months, I've been routinely tested for COVID-19, including testing negative last Saturday, but tonight my rapid antigen test came back positive," Tillis said in a statement. "I will be following the recommendations of my doctor and will be self-isolating at home for 10 days and notifying those I've been in close contact with."
Tillis, who is currently asymptomatic, attended the Supreme Court nomination ceremony in the White House Rose Garden for Amy Coney Barrett on Sept. 26. Tillis, who is a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, was wearing a mask at the ceremony. Tillis met with Barrett on Tuesday.
Tillis traveled back to North Carolina after the SCOTUS event to debate Cunningham on Thursday. Cunningham, who shared the debate stage with Tillis and bumped elbows, said he would get tested for the coronavirus.
"I'm wishing @SenThomTillis a quick recovery following his positive COVID-19 test, and am thinking of him and his family," Cunningham wrote on Twitter. "Because I was with Senator Tillis recently on the debate stage, I will also get tested."
Both Tillis and Cunningham sent well wishes to President Donald Trump following his positive COVID-19 diagnosis.
Tillis said, "President @realDonaldTrump is a fighter and I'm praying for a full and speedy recovery for him and @FLOTUS."
"My thoughts are with the President and First Lady, as we wish them a complete and speedy recovery from COVID-19," Cunningham tweeted. "This virus can affect any of us—we need to stay vigilant and continue to look out for one another."