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NC Democratic Senate candidate admits to sending extramarital texts, won't drop out of race

Cal Cunningham, the Democratic Senate candidate in North Carolina’s marquee Senate race, admitted he sent texts involving sexual messages to a woman who is not his wife.

The campaign confirmed to The Hill Saturday the authenticity of the text messages between Cunningham, a former state senator, and Arlene Guzman Todd, a public relations strategist from California. The texts were first reported Thursday night by NationalFile.com

The report contained pictures of texts in which Cunningham and Guzman, who is also married, discussed kissing, and other more explicit messages.

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“Would make my day to roll over and kiss you about now,” Cunningham wrote in one text message.

“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,” Guzman says in another. 

Cunningham and his wife, Elizabeth, have two children.

The release of the text messages comes just over a month before Election Day when Cunningham will face off against first-term Sen. Thom TillisThomas (Thom) Roland TillisSenators introduce bill to award Officer Goodman the Congressional Gold Medal Schumer becomes new Senate majority leader Democrats see Georgia as model for success across South MORE (R). The race is rated by the Cook Political Report as a toss-up, and polls show Cunningham with a narrow single-digit lead.

In a statement to The Hill, Cunningham apologized, but indicated he will remain in the race.

“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," Cunningham said. "I ask that my family’s privacy be respected in this personal matter.

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“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 added.

It is still unclear how the news of the text messages will impact the race, though Republicans jumped on the news.

"Families sacrifice so much when a candidate runs for office — time, finances, privacy, etc. For Cal Cunningham to betray his family like this is the most selfish, disgusting thing he could do. And if he’ll betray his family, he’ll betray #NCsen voters," tweeted National Republican Senatorial Committee spokesperson Joanna Rodriguez.

Democrats came to his defense, confident he'd retain the support he's enjoyed in the race thus far.

“North Carolinians are supporting Cal because he will protect health care coverage for pre-existing conditions, fight to bring down the costs of prescription drugs, and help our country recover from this crisis. We are confident that he will bring the same courage and determination to the Senate as he has while serving our country in uniform,” said Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee communications director Lauren Passalacqua.

Cunningham had been riding high earlier in the week after announcing he’d raised $28.3 million in the third quarter of the year, shattering a record for the most raised in a single quarter by any North Carolina politician.

Tillis Friday night also announced that he had tested positive for the coronavirus.