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They Donated to This Democrat Because of His Bad Sexts

They Donated to This Democrat Because of His Bad Sexts

When his text messages to a woman not his wife leaked last week, Cal Cunningham, the Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate in North Carolina, was immediately thrust into the time-honored cycle of shame, ridicule, evasiveness, and public apology that comes with political scandal.

But there was an odd addition to that cycle this time around: profit.

As Cunningham’s texts—which included racy gems such as “I kiss back, a lot”—made their way around Twitter and fueled Republican attacks, a number of people responded to the revelations by immediately opening their wallets and forking over cash to the guy who used the phrase “historically sexy” to describe his paramour.

“I don’t believe I have directly donated to him until now,” Jared, a Los Angeles resident, told The Daily Beast. When a spokesperson for the Senate GOP’s official campaign arm posted Cunningham’s texts to Twitter on Friday night, Jared was one of several Twitter users to reply with a screenshot of his receipt from the Democratic fundraising platform ActBlue, showing a donation to Cunningham.

“I donated to him because there’s nothing more important than Dems winning the Senate, and I want to make sure he has every resource he needs to win,” said Jared. “And I believe that was a matter that only he and his wife/family have any business in.”

It’s not a huge stretch to say that Cunningham’s PG-13 texts could influence the fate of the U.S. Senate. North Carolina is one of a handful of states that will decide which party controls the chamber next year, and the race between Cunningham and Sen. Thom Tillis, the incumbent Republican, has been perhaps the closest, hardest-fought, and most expensive Senate contest in the country.

In recent weeks, some GOP insiders had begun to write off Tillis, who had fallen behind in fundraising and in polls to Cunningham, an Army veteran and former state lawmaker with broad, inoffensive appeal who raised a staggering $28 million over the summer. But the emerging scandal presents an opportunity for Tillis to go on the offensive—even going on TV to hammer Cunningham while the senator recovers from the coronavirus, which he contracted after attending the Sept. 24 White House event for Judge Amy Coney Barrett.

But the fact that this story of infidelity—which once might have tanked someone like Cunningham—has actually galvanized at least some support for the embattled candidate speaks to how thoroughly the era of Donald Trump has obliterated past standards for scandal.

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