Last updated on October 16, 2020
With all the news that’s going on, this has resurfaced:
According to court filings obtained by American Ledger, North Carolina Republican Senator Thom Tillis’ ex-wife alleged “cruel and inhuman treatment” by Tillis, raising questions about the reasons surrounding the couple’s eventual divorce. In Tennessee, where the couple was married, “cruel and inhuman treatment” legally includes domestic violence, adultery, emotional or verbal abuse, and sexual assault.
The divorce complaint, filed in August 1979 on Tillis’ birthday, stated that Tillis was “guilty of such cruel and inhuman treatment or conduct towards the plaintiff as renders further cohabitation unsafe and improper.” The divorce filing also noted that Tillis’ ex-wife felt “unsafe and improper” living with Tillis any further because of his actions, which may include any or all of the actions outlined in the law.
Tillis’ relationship with his ex-wife was apparently tenuous, as indicated by the fact that the 1979 divorce proceeding came 6 months after their marriage and was followed by a 1981 divorce, a second marriage, and ultimately a second divorce in 1987. The first marriage, which started to unravel with the court document seen below, ultimately lasted two years.
The Democratic Super PAC, American Bridge 21st Century, has launched a text campaign to inform voters about this. The news about this came up this week and I wanted to wait and see if North Carolina press would highlight this but they haven’t because they’ve been obsessing about the Cal Cunningham (D. NC) “sexting scandal” which is not changing voters minds:
Coprecia Robinson, 50, is an early childhood educator in Raleigh who has spoken with Cunningham in the past and was planning to vote for him because of his stances on healthcare and equity. Robinson said though the news of Cunningham's extramarital affair shocked her, she still plans to vote for him.
“You're gonna have people that may change their mind about voting for him because they're going to look at him in a different way but again, I always say, what he did, how is that going to affect the office, the position that he will hold if he is elected?” Robinson said. “Did he go out here and commit a crime that affected the health care or that affected the people that he's going to be representing?”
Iventosch said he's disappointed that Tillis hasn't used this experience with COVID as an opportunity to inform his supporters of the serious nature of the virus.
“He's had most of his entire election downplaying the virus, and now he's gotten it,” said Isaiah Iventosch. “I don't wish coronavirus on anyone, like no matter how much I disagree with them, but I think that at a certain point, if you're basically taunting the disease,…that [doesn't] work out well.”
A Democrat familiar with recent polling said that while voters are aware of the affair, and the race may tighten, “people are not shifting their support.” And Democrats scoff at the possibility voters will punish Cunningham after Trump has been repeatedly accused of sexual misconduct, including the president's own words in the “Access Hollywood” tape, which was released a month before the 2016 election.
“It's a little bit hard for me to take seriously the Republican shock and horror about whatever this guy did,” said Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.). “Pretty much whatever any Democratic candidate could do has been eclipsed by what Donald Trump does every day that Republicans cover for.”
But Tillis says this is different because Cunningham was making character, integrity and a military background such an integral part of his race. Last Friday, outlets reported that Cunningham sent sexually suggestive texts to Arlene Guzman Todd, a California PR executive and the wife of an Army veteran. Guzman Todd later confirmed at least one intimate encounter with Cunningham “during a period of marital separation.” Cunningham is an Army reservist, and the Army said this week it is investigating the allegations.
Here’s some polling that came out this week that confirms this. Change Research/CNBC polling:
+4 Cal Cunningham in North Carolina (50 to 46) – in the past two weeks there has been a debate and a sexting scandal in this race. While there has been some consolidation behind both candidates over the past two weeks, the margin remains steady in favor of Cunningham.
Tillis of course is trying to use the “sexting scandal” to try and take down Cunningham:
A new poll conducted among North Carolina voters said that Republican Senator Thom Tillis is falling further behind in his race for re-election despite a recent scandal that struck his Democratic challenger's campaign.
According to a poll conducted on October 4 and 5 by Public Policy Polling, Cal Cunningham is leading Tillis 48-42, marking a 2-point gain for Cunningham since Public Policy Polling last surveyed likely voters in North Carolina near the end of July. Pollsters said these results came in spite of a sexting scandal involving Cunningham that his campaign acknowledged earlier this month.
“There isn't a ton of room for growth for Tillis among the people who say the news makes them less likely to vote for Cunningham though—he's already winning those people 79-10,” the poll said. “It really is just [President Donald] Trump voters already predisposed against Cunningham who care about this episode,” the poll continued, adding that 80 percent of likely voters who said they do not support the president said the news of the Democrat's scandal would not impact which Senate candidate they choose to support.
Democrats have stood by Cunningham. The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee is adding an additional $3 million to their TV reservations for the final two weeks of the campaign. Lauren Passalacqua, a spokesperson for the committee, said it was part of an ongoing strategy to add funding into core races, which include Iowa, Montana and Arizona. The DSCC is now set to spend nearly $21 million in the state, according to data from Advertising Analytics.
“People are disappointed about this, and they certainly don't need this now,” said Gary Pearce, a veteran Democratic operative in the state. “But from Democrats I talk to, people don't seem to be turning on him.”
Carolyn Eberly, an activist for the Indivisible group in the state’s 9th Congressional District, called it a “distraction” and said Cunnigham shouldn’t spend more time talking about it.
In interviews with CNN earlier in the week, Cunningham's supporters and donors said that they would stick by him and still believed he would win even though they recognized the story could hurt him with some voters.Richard Gusler, a Raleigh-based attorney, said he would “support a dead possum over Thom Tillis,” objecting to the senator's conservative views of LGBTQ rights and efforts to slash the state's unemployment benefits in the state House, where he served as speaker.“I'm not happy about what Cal Cunningham did recently at all,” said Gusler. “But, I have a hard time understanding how any Trump supporter could be giving him a hard time about sex texting when the President of the United States (had) unprotected sex with a porn star, and then paid her off to keep her mouth shut.”Trump has denied allegations he had an affair with Stormy Daniels, an erotic film star and director.Another Cunningham supporter, Michael Tiemann of Chapel Hill, said the Democrat's affair paled in comparison to other issues, predominately the administration's response to the pandemic, saying, “We can't realistically do our normal life because of the President's behavior and because of a Republican agenda that is contrary to science.”
“The particular peccadilloes of this case are not the issue that is going to move the needle,” he added.
State election officials worried that, with the coronavirus pandemic, they might have a hard time finding enough people to work the polls this year.
Now it looks like there's one less thing to worry about.
State Board of Elections Executive Director Karen Brinson Bell said Thursday that she figured the state would need 25,000 poll workers. Just under 47,000 signed up through an online portal.
“That is just phenomenal,” Brinson Bell said, during a late afternoon State Board of Elections meeting.
Democrats account for 55%, or 1.2 million of the 2.1 million people who have voted by mail across the seven early voting states where voters register by party: Florida, North Carolina, Iowa, Maryland, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and South Dakota. Republicans account for 24%, or 508,000 mail votes, in these seven states. Voters with no party affiliation made up 20%, or 417,000 votes.
Democrats requested nearly twice as many mail ballots nationwide than Republicans, probably the result of Trump's months-long assault on the legitimacy of mail ballots.
“There isn't a reason for Republicans to panic just because Democrats are 'winning' the mail vote,” said Chris Wilson, a Republican pollster, who has worked for Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. He said the numbers reflect a mail-voting advantage for Democrats that polls forecast long ago. “Every vote counts just once whether it is cast today or cast on Election Day.”
“That being said,” he added, “the concerning thing for Republicans has to be that once a Democratic vote is cast, it can't be taken back. So our window to message and convert any of these voters away from voting for Democrats is shorter than the number of days left in the campaign.”
The more Democratic votes get cast early, he said, the less time Republican candidates have to reverse things “before all we're producing is regrets from people who already cast their ballots.”
But a quick warning from yesterday’s New York Times:
And in North Carolina, Democratic-leaning counties around Asheville, Charlotte and Raleigh have high rates of absentee voting so far, but a half-dozen rural Democratic counties with majority Black populations have some of the state’s lowest turnout ratios so far.
Let’s keep up the momentum to flip North Carolina Blue. Click below to donate and get involved with Cunningham, Cooper, Biden and their fellow North Carolina Democrats campaigns:
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