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Follow the latest news and information about voting and the 2020 election, including essential information about how to vote during a pandemic and more.

With Little Fanfare (And Media) Cunningham Talks Health Care At UNC Charlotte

Cal Cunningham (left) spoke to about 75 early voters at UNC Charlotte Saturday afternoon. He campaigned with the rapper Common (right).
Steve Harrison/WFAE
Cal Cunningham (left) spoke to about 75 early voters at UNC Charlotte Saturday afternoon. He campaigned with the rapper Common (right).

Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Cal Cunningham spoke to voters Saturday afternoon at UNC Charlotte and said that “while it may be my name on the ballot,” health care is the most important issue in the election.

With three days before Election Day, Cunningham is trying to keep the focus on health care instead of reports from early October that he had an extramarital affair over the summer. Cunningham has said he is “deeply sorry for the hurt I have caused in my personal life” but has since refused to talk about the issue — or a report that he had an affair with another woman.

In the past month, Cunningham has mostly kept a low profile. He has attended small in-person events and virtual events, but hasn’t given the media advance notice.

On Saturday, Cunningham made a brief stop at an early voting site at UNC Charlotte with the rapper Common.

His campaign did not advertise the event to the press. A PR firm related to Common issued a news release about the campaign event, in which Common and Cunningham spoke to about 75 people.

When asked about his lack of availability to the media, Cunningham said, “Look, I’m having conversations directly with voters. In fact, this is over 40 conversations with voters over the last 10 days. And we’re catching people who are going into the voting booth. And we’re directly answering the questions they have on health care, on education, on jobs. I’m very confident of where I think we are.”

The Army has said it’s opened an investigation into Cunningham, presumably over the affair. Cunningham is a lieutenant colonel in the Army Reserve. Adultery is a violation of the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

When asked if he has been questioned by investigators, Cunningham said: “I’m participating in the process, and we’ll see where it goes.”

He said he “has not heard” when the investigation may be finished. He declined to say again whether he has been interviewed, and said “the process is ongoing.”

Republican incumbent Thom Tillis has tried to make the affair a key part of his closing message. He campaigned in Charlotte on Saturday morning with former South Carolina governor Nikki Haley.

North Carolina’s Senate race is considered one of the closest in the country and could determine who controls the Senate.

Most polls have shown Cunningham with a 1- to a 3-point lead. And NBC News-Marist poll released Friday shows Cunningham ahead by 10 percentage points, however. And a poll from the Republican Trafalgar Group has Tillis head by two points.

The Cunningham campaign has returned to its attack that Tillis has voted multiple times to repeal the Affordable Care Act and has no plan to replace it.

“The issues that we need a champion to work on are urgent, they are in front of us,” Cunningham said at UNC Charlotte. “Sen. Tillis has let us down on issue after issue.”

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Steve Harrison is WFAE's politics and government reporter. Prior to joining WFAE, Steve worked at the Charlotte Observer, where he started on the business desk, then covered politics extensively as the Observer’s lead city government reporter. Steve also spent 10 years with the Miami Herald. His work has appeared in The Washington Post, the Sporting News and Sports Illustrated.