Democrats have been licking their chops over the idea of flipping a North Carolina Senate seat blue — but it looks like their hopes of turning the tide are fading fast.
According to the Washington Examiner, polls show incumbent North Carolina Sen. Thom Tillis, a Republican, gaining ground on his opponent after the Democrat and his mistress both confessed to an affair.
According to Breitbart, the Associated Press obtained text messages that it said showed Cal Cunningham, the Democrat hoping to unseat Tillis, “had a recent affair” with a California public relations strategist.
It’s just the latest scandal that threatens to rock the 2020 campaign season with just weeks left till Election Day.
Making a comeback
Tillis, for his part, was far from out of the race, but he has long been trailing Cunningham in the polls. In September, according to FiveThirtyEight, he was down by a full 10 points.
Since the news of Cunningham’s alleged affair broke, Tillis has made a huge comeback, recently polling within a few percentage points of his Democrat challenger on FiveThirtyEight and taking a 1-point lead in a recent East Carolina University (ECU) poll cited by the Washington Examiner.
According to the ECU poll, 6% of voters remain undecided, meaning there’s more than enough room for this race to go either way. Still, if Tillis can keep up his momentum, he’ll be well on his way toward a big upset from pundits’ earlier predictions.
Only one problem threatens to derail his plans: according to The Hill, Tillis tested positive for the coronavirus last week, a diagnosis that will him in quarantine and off the campaign trail for at least two weeks.
The positive test came a day after Tillis took on Cunningham in a televised debate. Cunningham subsequently vowed to get tested for the coronavirus.
A “personal matter” gone political
Of course, the disease isn’t the only thing on Cunningham’s mind. It remains to be seen whether he can make up for lost ground, especially after his mistress herself came forward, telling the Associated Press about at least “two in-person encounters with Cunningham, one in March in Los Angeles that she said did not include intimate contact and a second in July in North Carolina, where she said they were intimate,” as Breitbart reported.
The Democrat Senate hopeful has issued an apology, but has not gone into detail about the alleged affair, according to Breitbart.
“I have hurt my family, disappointed my friends, and am deeply sorry,” Cunningham said in a statement. “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.”