Democrat Cal Cunningham’s no good, very bad, horrible week last week has extended into this one, too, so much so that the U.S. Senate nominee hand-picked by Sen. Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) to challenge Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC) bailed at the last minute Monday on a virtual town hall where he was expected to take questions from voters:
— Jeff Tiberii (@j_tibs) October 5, 2020
There are two likely reasons for this, as I’ll explain below.
First, as we reported over the weekend, Cunningham admitted Friday to sexting with a California woman, while in the middle of his Senate campaign. While there’s nothing necessarily wrong with sexting in and of itself, it’s a very big problem in this instance because Cunningham is married and has two teenage kids.
In a statement issued Friday night, Cunningham apologized for his behavior and vowed to stay in the race.
But on the same day (Monday) the town hall was supposed to take place, the website that first broke the story of Cunningham’s “sexts” with another woman (who is also married) broke a follow-up story claiming Cunningham had a second mistress who was allegedly very upset that he was sexting another woman on the side:
The second allegation hinges on a claim from Erin Brinkman, who appears to be a Los Angeles-based lawyer who served on Cunningham’s state Senate steering committee from 2009 to 2010, according to the LinkedIn profile of a woman with the same name.
“He’s been having an affair with a good friend of mine since 2012. Not the woman mentioned in the story. Needless to say, my friend was devastated. But my feeling is, if they’ll cheat WITH you, they’ll cheat ON you!” reads a screengrab of a Facebook comment written by Erin Brinkman that was published by NationalFile.com on Monday.
Here’s the screengrab:
Where there's smoke…
From the reporter that broke the Cunningham sex scandal story:
"North Carolina-based lawyer Erin Brinkman stated on Facebook that her friend has been having an affair with …Cal Cunningham since 2012 & the friend was 'devastated'" https://t.co/kxTy9zJ6Dr pic.twitter.com/J1OF5DDbZz
— Jesse Hunt (@JJHunt10) October 5, 2020
In addition to backing out of the town hall, the Cunningham campaign appears to have – at least for the time being – not put up any new fundraising ads on Facebook since news of the scandal broke. The DC Examiner noted that “it appears the Cunningham camp has no advertising on Facebook presently.”
Tillis, who announced Friday he had tested positive for the coronavirus, responded to both reports today by calling on Cunningham to give North Carolina voters a “thorough explanation” of what was going on:
“Cal’s trying to finesse it as an errant text but we now have a second report,” Mr. Tillis said on Fox News Tuesday morning. “His family should be kept private. He’s got teenage children. But Cal owes North Carolinians, all the voters, a full and thorough explanation for what we now know are two separate events. And he is an officer in the military. He’s also subject to disciplinary action just on the basis of what he’s admitted to.”
Thom Tillis brings the 🔥 on Cal Cunningham’s extramarital sexting: “On the debate stage last week, Cal said it’s about integrity, and I agree… Cal owes North Carolinians, all the voters a full & thorough explanation for what we now know are two separate events.” #NCsen pic.twitter.com/Sa8sBVqLHF
— Joanna Rodriguez (@joannamrod) October 6, 2020
As of this writing, Cunningham has not responded to the affair allegation made in the second report. His Twitter and Facebook pages have also not been active since NC-based news outlets confirmed the sexting story.
Cunningham has led Tillis in most polls to date, but don’t count the incumbent out by any stretch. Not only does this scandal have the potential to change the course of the race, but in his 2014 race against then-Sen. Kay Hagan, though Tillis was behind in most polls he rallied to win the election thanks in part to a stepped-up ground game, aggressive social media efforts from Republican supporters, and late-breaking stories that ultimately proved damaging to the Hagan campaign.