• November 26, 2020
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Former North Carolina senator John Edwards’ political career ended when it came out that he had an extramarital affair, is Cal Cunningham next? (Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

Turn on the TV anywhere in North Carolina and you’re bound to come across an ad from the Thom Tillis campaign. Tillis’ campaign has spent these last few weeks before the election in overdrive trying to capitalize on Cal Cunningham’s affair. Cunningham is Tillis’ Democratic opponent in this hotly contested race that is likely going to determine which party controls the United States Senate chamber.

A few weeks ago the Cunningham campaign confirmed that a string of flirtatious texts between Cunningham and a woman who is not his wife were real. 

In the texts Cunningham speaks about how much he wants to kiss the woman and calls her “historically sexy”. The woman was later revealed to be Arlene Guzman Todd, a Democratic strategist from California. To make the story weirder, other text strings reveal that Guzman Todd had threatened to release revenge porn of Cunningham, and said that the two had a sexual encounter in Cunningham’s home, however no one can confirm this. In the latest week, the conservative news outlet National File released a story claiming that Cunningham had a second affair, which again no one can confirm. The public has not heard anything from Cunningham’s wife or two children, but many have observed that it appears he isn’t working from home anymore. 

All of this may ring a few bells for some North Carolinians, as it is similar to the story of former North Carolina Senator John Edwards. Edwards was senator from 1998 until 2004, when he declined to run for re-election to pursue the vice-presidency under Democratic nominee for President John Kerry. In 2007, while Edwards was campaigning to be the 2008 Democratic nominee for President, the National Inquirer first reported about his affair. The story really blew up in 2008. 

In a long series of denials and confirmations from Edwards, it came out that Edwards had an affair while campaigning for President, but not only did this affair take the cake for political scandals, it was a three-tiered layer cake. Edwards had an affair, he had a child with this woman. Edwards originally denied being the father, but after sources disclosed that Edwards had secretly told campaign aides to find a doctor that would fake DNA test results, he confirmed that the child was his. 

While Edwards was having his extramarital fling and lovechild, his wife Elizabeth was battling breast cancer. She divorced Edwards in early 2010 and later passed away from cancer. 

It’s no doubt that Edwards’ affair is way worse than Cunningham’s, but the fact that North Carolina is going through this again is astounding.

 A big difference between the two is that while the scandal finished Edwards’ career, Cunningham still has a real shot at unseating Tillis. Cunningham still leads consistently in most all of the polls, and in them respondents say that while they think the scandal is immoral, they still support Cunningham.

It really tells a lot about the political environment when a sex scandal in one of the closest states in the nation doesn’t tip the needle at all. Don’t write Tillis off yet, as there are still two weeks until voting ends and half the electorate still needs to vote. Either this scandal helps Republicans keep the senate, or North Carolina elects another cheating husband. 

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