Democratic Senate candidate Cal Cunningham, who is definitely a Democrat, is embroiled in an embarrassing sexting scandal thanks to the diligent reporting of a Washington Free Beacon alum.
Cunningham, who is running against incumbent Sen. Thom Tillis (R., N.C.), confirmed the authenticity of text messages first published by NationalFile.com on Thursday, but refused to drop out of the race. The intimate yet nerdy exchanges between Cunningham and Arlene Guzman Todd, an army wife and public relations professional in California, threaten to upend a crucial swing-state contest that could determine which party controls the Senate in 2021.
"I have hurt my family, disappointed my friends, and am deeply sorry," said Cunningham, a married father of two, in a statement released by his campaign. "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." The candidate said he "will continue to work to earn the opportunity to fight for the people of our state."
The texts, at least some of which appear to have been exchanged over the summer, reveal what might best be described as an adorably quaint display of courtship—if not for the infidelity, hubris, and deceit involved. North Carolina Democrats, it would seem, are particularly incapable of remaining faithful to their wives.
"You are historically sexy," Cunningham texted his paramour, along with a kiss emoji. In response, she asked when they could see each other, adding: "I want to kiss you." Cunningham, presumably all fired up at this point, wrote back: "And I kiss back." Not satisfied that his level of attraction has been sufficiently conveyed, the candidate added: "A lot."
Cunningham's lady friend then expressed her desire for "a night with you," to which he responded: "Sounds wonderful—I want that too!!! Very badly." The lady friend urges him to "make up an excuse" to be away from his family, "ditch" his campaign staff, and "be ready to kiss a lot."
According to NationalFile.com, the lady friend is Arlene Guzman Todd, who is currently married to Jeremy Todd, an Army sergeant who served five combat deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan. Cunningham also served as a lawyer in the Army Reserve, which has been the central message of his campaign up to this point. Adultery is generally frowned upon in the military.
Cunningham himself has previously signaled his revulsion for marital infidelity. As a candidate for state senate in 2000, Cunningham expressed support for Al Gore's selection of former senator Joe Lieberman (D., Conn.) as a running mate, telling the Salisbury Post he respected Lieberman for his morally charged rebuke of Bill Clinton, one of the Democratic Party's most prominent philanderers.
During Clinton's impeachment hearings in 1998, Lieberman had denounced the president's behavior in the Monica Lewinsky scandal as "inappropriate," "immoral," and "harmful."