The U.S. Senate race in North Carolina has been thrown into turmoil: The incumbent, Thom Tillis, has COVID-19 and his opponent, Cal Cunningham, has been caught sending extramarital texts.
The Democrat’s romantic messages to public relations strategist Arlene Guzman Todd were initially exposed by the National File, a right-wing website.
But in a statement to the Raleigh News & Observer, Cunningham confirmed their accuracy.
“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,” he said.
He also said he has no intention of dropping out of the race, where he has been leading Tillis in the polls.
“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.
Meanwhile, Tillis’ campaign has been upended by Friday night’s news that he has contracted the coronavirus. He is one of seven people who tested positive after attending last weekend’s Rose Garden ceremony for Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett. The others are President Trump, first lady Melania Trump, former adviser Kellyanne Conway, Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT), the president of Notre Dame University, and a White House journalist.
Cunningham said that because he recently shared a debate stage with Tillis, he planned to get tested for the virus, too.
National File did not say how it obtained the text messages between Cunningham, a married father of two, and Guzman Todd, who is also married.
By the standards of recent scandals, they are on the tame side, with Cunningham writing, “Would make my day to roll over and kiss you about now,” and Guzman Todd writing, “The only thing I want on my to-do list is you.”