So, as it turns out, former North Carolina state Sen. Cal Cunningham is quite the cad.
After “sexts” between Cunningham and a woman who is not his wife were published by multiple news outlets over two weeks ago, the Democratic Senate nominee issued a statement apologizing for his behavior, while also noting he planned to stay in the race.
Since that statement was issued, more information has come to light as to the nature of their affair. Arlene Guzman Todd, Cunningham’s sexting partner, confirmed with the Associated Press that things went way beyond sexting. According to Guzman Todd, she and Cunningham had intimate relations in his North Carolina home as recently as July.
In a text message to a friend, Guzman Todd, who is married to an Army veteran, described the encounter that allegedly took place in Cunningham’s home as “weird.”
North Carolina voters, especially those still on the fence over whom to vote for, might view it as a little more than “weird.” After all, it’s not like this affair was years ago and over with. This affair happened as Cunningham, an Army Reserve lieutenant colonel, ran a “family guy, character matters, military man of honor”-type campaign right from the start.
He frequently mentions his time served in Iraq and Afghanistan. Some of his campaign ads even end with him saying, “In North Carolina, the truth still matters.”
But North Carolina voters found out this month that Cunningham was not only untruthful to his wife, but that he allegedly had the gall to carry out the relationship in the home he shared with his wife and two teenage children.
Some of his campaign ads even end with him saying, “In North Carolina, the truth still matters.”
In addition to that, the Army Reserve has launched an investigation into the allegations. They didn’t get into specifics of the investigation, but adultery is considered “service discrediting” by the U.S. military.
So far, Cunningham has refused to comment on the details of that relationship as well as another one that has allegedly been ongoing since 2012, according to a former staffer for his state Senate steering committee.
He was asked repeatedly during a Friday press conference if there were other women beyond Guzman Todd. His stock answers when asked about her and any other possible women have been, “this campaign is not about my personal life,” and, “I’ve apologized for the hurt I’ve caused.”
Cunningham can continue to run away from these issues, but he can’t hide from them. When your entire campaign is based on portraying yourself as a man of honor, integrity, and faithfulness, you don’t get to dial all that back when you’ve been caught in — and admitted to — conduct unbecoming.
He’s had at least one affair, possibly two, going on while running a campaign based on the family/military man persona in a state that is not only home to Fort Bragg and other military installations but which also is still deeply religious.
It’s unclear at this point whether or not this will negatively impact Cunningham’s polling numbers. But even if October polling ultimately ends up not reflecting it, I don’t think there’s any question that this is going to hurt his campaign.
How much it does is the million-dollar question and one we won’t have an answer to until Nov. 3.
Stacey Matthews has also written under the pseudonym Sister Toldjah and is a regular contributor to RedState and Legal Insurrection.