Taylor: Montana Voters' Choice on Gianforte Should Be 'Honored'

Olive Rios
May 27, 2017

CNN projected Gianforte would win. According to the Associated Press, with 95 percent of precincts reporting, Gianforte led 51 percent to Quist's 43 percent.

In his acceptance speech, Gianforte apologized by name to Ben Jacobs, the Guardian reporter who made the accusation after an altercation on Wednesday.

The Montana race focused on Quist's history of financial problems and Gianforte's stance on House Republicans' effort to dismantle Obamacare.

The last-minute controversy unnerved Republicans, who also faced close calls this year in the traditionally Republican congressional districts in Kansas and Georgia.

The day after the alleged assault, House Speaker Paul Ryan condemned Gianforte's behavior and called for him to apologize, but didn't say he should withdraw from the race.

Mr Quist's closing advertisements criticised Mr Gianforte for his private support of the bill, saying the measure wouldn't protect those with pre-existing conditions.

At a campaign event in Missoula Thursday night, Quist thanked supporters and said he hopes the "energy and grassroots movement in this state goes on".

Gianforte has repeated numerous national Republican talking points on the media, as well as on issues like healthcare and education.

The incident occurred as Jacobs tried to ask Mr Gianforte about healthcare, according to an audio tape. The eyewitnesses said Gianforte "grabbed Jacobs by the neck with both hands and slammed him into the ground behind him", and "then began punching the reporter".

Greg Gianforte was charged with assault before polls opened, but still won a special election in Montana, US.

The incident was condemned by journalism groups, including the Reporters Committee for the Freedom of the Press, as well the Writers Guild of America, East, and three Montana newspapers pulled their endorsements.

A swing of that size in such a short period of time suggests a climate that could put Republican control of the House in jeopardy.

While Gianforte's assault garnered national attention and speculation that it might hurt his chances Thursday, about 276,000 Montanans had already voted by absentee by Wednesday, leaving only about a fourth of the total vote to be cast on Thursday. "I should not have treated that reporter that way, and for that, I am sorry, Ben Jacobs". The seat had been held by Ryan Zinke, whom Trump appointed as interior secretary.

Gianforte ran for governor in Montana last fall as a moderate supporter Donald Trump supporter. He campaigned last weekend with US Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, who won the state's 2016 Democratic presidential primary against Hillary Clinton.

Gianforte could face additional, more serious charges once prosecutors review the evidence, Gallatin County Attorney Marty Lambert told Reuters. Late Wednesday, authorities charged Gianforte with misdemeanor assault.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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