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UPDATE: Husband of Cal Cunningham’s Mistress Calls on Him to Drop Out of Senate Race

'He knows (that I) can tank his campaign...'

UPDATE 3:30 PM: From The News & Observer of Raleigh:

The husband of the woman who confirmed an extramarital affair with Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Cal Cunningham said he should drop out of the North Carolina race.

Jeremy Todd is an Army veteran who served 19-plus years and severely injured his spine during a paratrooper proficiency jump several years ago. His wife, Arlene Guzman Todd, has confirmed she had an intimate relationship with Cunningham after the candidate’s campaign confirmed the authenticity of suggestive text messages between the two.

“Mr. Cunningham chose to repeatedly engage in activities that would hurt his family and a fellow junior officer and veteran,” Jeremy Todd said in a statement Wednesday to The News & Observer.

“If elected, I can only imagine how misplaced his judgment would be for the people he’s charged to represent,” Todd said. “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.”

ORIGINAL ARTICLE: (Headline USA) A race in North Carolina critical to control of the U.S. Senate has been thrown into turmoil over allegations of personal misconduct by Democrat Cal Cunningham, a married man who had at least one extramarital relationship this summer with a consultant.

On Wednesday, the Army Reserve confirmed that it formally looking onto the Cunningham’s unseemly conduct as more text messages emerged, reported WRAL.

“The Army Reserve is investigating the matters involving Lt. Col. James Cunningham,” said Simon B. Flake, chief of media relations and public information for the Army Reserve Strategic Communications. “As such, we are unable to provide further details at this time.”

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Previously undisclosed text messages (explicit) obtained by The Associated Press and additional interviews show that the relationship extended beyond suggestive texts, as was previously reported, to an intimate encounter as recent as July.

The revelations do not include information about an alleged second mistress that was found by conservative news Web site NationalFile.com, which also uncovered the first sexts between Cunningham and the consultant.

Republicans hold a 53-47 majority in the Senate, and the contest between Cunningham and Republican Sen. Thom Tillis has been among the most watched in the country, with polls showing a tight race and both parties investing heavily in the outcome.

Cunningham’s personal indiscretion offers a fresh test of whether voters will punish candidates for their private, consensual activity, and the answer they deliver could determine which party wields power in the Senate.

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The chamber has been a bulwark for Republicans under President Donald Trump, with Democrats in control of the House.

An Army Reserve lieutenant colonel with a wholesome appeal, Cunningham was widely viewed as the kind of recruit Democrats needed to make inroads in conservative-leaning Southern states like North Carolina.

Yet the text messages and interviews offer a glimpse that is at odds with the image of a devoted family man. A week ago NationalFile.com published text messages between Cunningham and Arlene Guzman Todd, a public relations strategist from California, that suggested a personal relationship.

The newly obtained texts, which are between Guzman Todd and a friend, provide a more specific timeline about their recent relationship, as well as details that describe intimate encounters — not simply a digital exchange.

The text messages were not obtained from Guzman Todd. But the AP contacted her to confirm their authenticity. In a series of interviews late Monday as well as in the text messages, Guzman Todd described two in-person encounters with Cunningham. One was in March in Los Angeles that she said did not include intimate contact, and a second was in July in North Carolina, where she said they were intimate.

However, texts published on NationalFile.com show that Guzman Todd saying she had sex with Cunningham in his home “for a week.”

Guzman Todd characterized the experience in “another woman’s house” as “weird.”

In another exchange, Guzman Todd indicated that she was frustrated by the limited attention that he showed her.

“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 text message to her friend. She added in another, “He knows (that I) can tank his campaign.”

In a statement, 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” — without explaining how long she was at Cunningham’s North Carolina home.

Her text messages described the intimacy.

Cunningham’s campaign declined to comment on the newly disclosed texts or on Guzman’s statement.

The campaign instead pointed to a statement issued on Friday, shortly before they confirmed the authenticity of an initial round of texts that were made public between Cunningham and Guzman Todd.

“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. I ask that my family’s privacy be respected in this personal matter,” Cunningham, who has two teenage children and has been married for two decades, said at the time.

It’s unclear whether the revelation of affairs between consenting adults is something North Carolina voters will care about, particularly after the state swung in 2016 for Trump, who has been married three times and paid hush money to a porn star to keep silent about an alleged extramarital tryst.

Cunningham, 47, was a star recruit for Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer. He’s been a fundraising powerhouse, although that partially may be attributed to the competitive nature of the race and pursuit of the control of the Senate. He also checks important boxes: He’s a veteran, a father, an officer in the Army Reserve, a lawyer and a former state senator.

In recent years, he worked for the environmental services company WasteZero. And he’s had an aw-shucks style that matched effectively against Tillis and could be compelling to critical independent voters.

“He had this clean-cut image with a great story, a great background, an impeccable record of service,” said Brad Crone, a longtime state Democratic consultant. “He was straight out of central casting.”

Tillis has seized on the revelations, arguing that Cunningham “owes the people of North Carolina a full explanation” for his extramarital activity.

“On the debate stage last week Cal said it’s about integrity — and I agree,” Tillis said on “Fox & Friends.”

Both candidates are now on the sidelines. Tillis is isolating at his home, and his Charlotte campaign office is closed for the rest of the week. Cunningham pulled out of a previously planned online forum on Monday with the Libertarian candidate in the race. His campaign gave no reason for his decision.

Despite the developments, some state Democrats sought to keep supporting Cunningham for the seat, saying he’s still right on the issues important to the party faithful and the country.

“Cunningham had a critical lapse in judgement and morality. My prayers go out to his family as they work through healing,” tweeted North Carolina state Sen. Erica Smith, who lost to Cunningham in the March Democratic primary. “I ask our supporters to unite around our platform and stand with Cal for NC.”

But Chris Cooper, a political science professor at Western Carolina University, said how much the revelations will damage Cunningham’s campaign depends on whether additional details surfaced beyond the texts.

“It was a character-first campaign, and it was as much about who Cal Cunningham is than what Cal Cunningham stands for — and that’s a harder sell today than it was last week,” Cooper said Tuesday.

Adapted from reporting by Associated Press.

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