Newly uncovered text messages show that an extramarital relationship between North Carolina Democratic Senate candidate Cal Cunningham and a public relations consultant lasted continued until at least July.
The text messages obtained by The Associated Press risk further roiling Cunningham’s campaign after the former state senator admitted last week to sending texts involving sexual messages to Arlene Guzman Todd, a public relations strategist from California.
In one of the messages obtained by the AP, Guzman Todd texted a friend about an encounter with Cunningham in his home in which she said they were intimate, describing the encounter as “weird.”
She also expressed frustration in another text with what she said was a lack of attention from Cunningham.
“I’m just going to send to his opponent his naked photos,” Guzman Todd wrote. “That will teach him.”
“You don’t deserve me Cal,” she said in a separate message. She added in another, “He knows (that I) can tank his campaign.”
More messages obtained by local outlet WRAL featured more explicit language.
“I just want to [expletive] him one last time and break his heart,” one text to a friend reads.
“Trying to make plans to see the politician so I can give him the [expletive] of his life and then walk away,” Guzman Todd says in another message.
The AP reported that the new text messages, which were disclosed after it was revealed last week that the two had exchanged salacious messages, confirm that Cunningham and Guzman Todd were intimate on at least one occasion.
In a statement to the news wire, Guzman Todd apologized for the “pain and embarrassment, and disrespect I’ve caused to my immediate family, loved ones, and everyone affected by this situation.”
“A few months back, I displayed a lapse in judgment by engaging in a relationship with Cal Cunningham during a period of marital separation,” Guzman Todd said. “The relationship spanned several months and consisted primarily of a series of text exchanges and an in-person encounter.”
Cunningham’s campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Hill.
In a statement released last week after the first batch of texts was revealed, Cunningham issued an apology but also indicated he intends to remain in the Senate 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."
"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.
Prior to last week’s revelations, Cunningham appeared to be in a strong position heading into the final sprint before Election Day. Polls had shown him with narrow leads over Sen. Thom TillisThomas (Thom) Roland TillisGOP rallies around Manchin, Sinema Advocates frustrated by shrinking legal migration under Biden Key debt-limit vote sparks major fight among Senate Republicans MORE (R-N.C.), and his campaign announced he’d raised $28.3 million in the third quarter of the year, shattering a record for the most money raised in a single quarter by any North Carolina politician. Tillis had also been sidelined from campaigning after he announced that he had tested positive for the coronavirus.
It’s still unclear how the scandal will impact a Senate race that is also taking place amid a historic pandemic and a recession, but Republicans jumped on the latest developments, noting that Cunningham had worked to cultivate a wholesome image as a family man and military veteran during his campaign.
“Cal Cunningham has centered his entire campaign around duty and honor, all while he was sexting and carrying on an affair with the wife of an Army combat veteran," said National Republican Senatorial Committee spokesperson Joanna Rodriguez. "North Carolinians deserve answers about Cunningham's misconduct so they can judge whether he is fit to represent them.”
“I’m sad for his wife and his teenage children,” Tillis told WRAL on Tuesday. “Cal Cunningham owes everybody an explanation for two revelations over the past week. I think North Carolinians deserve it. He needs to stop canceling media events and campaign events and go before the people of North Carolina and give us all a thorough explanation.”