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Chaos unravels within NC Senate race with texting scandal & COVID-19 diagnosis

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FILE - U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis, R-N.C., right, speaks as Democratic challenger Cal Cunningham listens during a televised debate Thursday, Oct. 1, 2020 in Raleigh, N.C. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome, Pool)

Over the last week, the North Carolina Senate Race between incumbent Thom Tillis and Democratic challenger Cal Cunningham has made national headlines.

Both have been in the national eye for very different reasons though.

On Friday, Senator Tillis announced he tested positive for COVID-19. When News 13 spoke with him one-on-one Wednesday, he said he was feeling much better.

"I had some symptoms on Saturday morning," the senator said. "They dissipated by the afternoon and I got my sense of taste back the day before yesterday, so I feel great."

SPOKESMAN SAYS TILLIS IS IMPROVING AFTER COVID DIAGNOSIS

Sen. Tillis received a rapid test at Mission Hospital in Asheville last week. He then headed to his home in Charlotte where he says he's been since.

Tillis is among several people who tested positive for COVID-19 days after attending the Supreme Court nomination ceremony for Amy Coney Barrett at the White House.

"I don’t think I was infected at the White House," he said. "I was around a number of people, a number of staff, I should say after the event subsequent to Wednesday. Given I showed my first symptoms on Saturday, we think it’s more likely it occurred sometime during the week."

He did wear a mask during the Rose Garden announcement, but he went without one at a reception for Barrett inside the White House.

"I let my guard down and now I recognize even that is a mistake," Sen. Tillis added.

DEMOCRAT'S PERSONAL SCANDAL ROILS NORTH CAROLINA SENATE RACE

Later Friday evening, Tillis' Democratic challenger, Cal Cunningham, admitted to and apologized for sending sexually suggestive text messages to a woman, who is not his wife.

"I think it’s important for Mr. Cunningham to come before the people of North Carolina and give us a full explanation," Tillis told News 13.

It’s now been confirmed that the relationship extends beyond texts.

Newly obtained messages between Arlene Guzman Todd, a public relations strategist from California, and a friend provide a more specific timeline about a recent relationship, as well as details that describe intimate encounters.

In a series of interviews, Guzman Todd described two in-person encounters with Cunningham. One happened this July in North Carolina.

Tillis said he believes this is important to the race.

"This race is about Thom Tillis and Cal Cunningham and the allegations are about something that occurred over the course of this campaign," he said. "This isn’t something that happened five years ago or 10 years ago. This is something that happened days or weeks ago. That’s why I think it’s relevant and that’s why I think Cal Cunningham owes us all an explanation."

CUNNINGHAM INCHES BACK INTO PUBLIC AS ARMY CONFIRMS PROBE

Cunningham is a Lieutenant Colonel in the Army Reserves. It’s now been revealed the Army Reserve is investigating the matters involving him.

News 13 has reached out twice now to Cunningham for an interview.

His team has been silent since Friday, when they released a statement, that said in part:

I have hurt my family, disappointed my friends, and am deeply sorry. 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.

In that statement, Cunningham did also say he would not drop out of the race.

You can watch News 13's full, one-on-one interview with Senator Thom Tillis below:

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