Tillis: Cunningham needs to come clean to voters

FILE - In this Oct. 1, 2020, file photo, Democratic challenger Cal Cunningham talks during during a televised debate with Sen. Thom Tillis, R-N.C., in Raleigh, N.C. Cunningham inched back into the public sphere on Wednesday, Oct. 7, a day after The Associated Press reported the he had an intimate encounter this summer with a public relations consultant. Within hours of the military disclosing that it is investigating Cunningham, a lieutenant colonel in the Army Reserve, he rejected the idea that the race with Tillis had turned into a referendum on his character, even while expressing remorse for extramarital activity. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome, Pool)

RALEIGH — U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis called on his Democratic opponent, Cal Cunningham, to come clean and give North Carolinians a full explanation of his affair that has rocked the state’s U.S. Senate race in recent days.

Cunningham engaged in at least one, and possibly more, extramarital affairs that came to light in the past week. Cunningham confirmed an affair with a combat veteran’s wife that has since led to an investigation by the U.S. Army Reserve.

The Associated Press reported earlier this week that Cunningham inched back into the public sphere, telling WNCN-TV in an interview, “I’ve made it clear that I’ve hurt my family and that I’ve disappointed my supporters, and I’m taking responsibility for that.”

The television station appeared to have surprised Cunningham in the parking lot of a Starbucks at Cameron Village, a posh area close to downtown Raleigh.

“I’m very clear that this campaign isn’t about my personal life; it’s about the people of North Carolina; it’s about the issues that are important to North Carolinians, and that’s what I’m staying focused on,” Cunningham said.

“Cal Cunningham is embroiled in a scandal that has exposed his candidacy as one big lie, revealing his hypocrisy and poor judgment in having an extramarital affair with the wife of a wounded combat veteran that has landed him under investigation by the U.S. Army,” said Tillis campaign spokeswoman Alex Nolley.

“Cunningham needs to stop hiding and start providing straight answers to all the questions reporters have about his misconduct, lies, and hypocrisy. The truth still matters in North Carolina, and voters deserve a full explanation from Cal Cunningham,” Nolley said.

The Tillis campaign released new ads as Cunningham was scheduled to hold his first press call since his scandal surfaced. Multiple emails to the Cunningham campaign from North State Journal have gone unanswered.

Tillis, who is recovering at his home following a positive COVID-19 diagnosis, has given multiple interviews nationwide regarding both his treatment and the status of his close election with Cunningham.

A memo released by the Tillis campaign said the race has been “dramatically and permanently altered, not by sex, but by the hypocritical lack of judgment and truthfulness now fully on display by Cal Cunningham.”

In fact, the last seven days have created a whirlwind in the expensive race for the state’s U.S. Senate seat.

It was last Friday, Oct. 2, when Tillis confirmed testing positive for COVID-19 after President Donald Trump, First Lady Melania Trump, and staff from the White House had also tested positive.

Then, late that same Friday night, Cunningham confirmed reports from the website NationalFile.com of salacious text messages between Cunningham and a California public relations consultant, Arlene Guzman Todd.

Allegations of a second affair came on Monday, Oct. 5 but as of yet have not been confirmed. However, Cunningham canceled a planned town hall appearance on Monday following the allegation.

On Wednesday, Oct. 7, the military confirmed it was investigating the affair, with Army Lt. Col. Simon Flake saying, “The Army Reserve is investigating the matters involving (Lt. Col.) James Cunningham,” citing Cunningham by his official first name.

Guzman Todd’s husband, Jeremy Todd, a combat veteran, called on Cunningham to drop out of the race in a Raleigh News & Observer story.  In the article, Todd said that if Cunningham was elected “I can only imagine how misplaced his judgment would be for the people he’s charged to represent. I firmly believe Mr. Cunningham should drop out of the Senate race and ask that his behavior and actions be reviewed under the Uniform Code of Military Justice.”

Wednesday was also the day when Cunningham made his first appearance on camera and his campaign began making public statements via his social media accounts.

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Matt Mercer is the editor in chief of North State Journal and can be reached at [email protected].