GOP candidate charged with assaulting reporter wins Montana special election

Elias Hubbard
June 3, 2017

Republican Greg Gianforte appears to have defeated Democrat Rob Quist on Thursday night in a race for Montana's lone seat in the U.S. House, despite being charged Wednesday with assaulting a reporter.

Gianforte prevailed despite being charged on Wednesday night with misdemeanor assault on Ben Jacobs, a political correspondent for the USA edition of the Guardian newspaper, who said the candidate "body-slammed" him during a campaign event in Bozeman. The percent margin jumped from two, to four and than a six-percent lead by 9:30 p.m.

"Last night I made a mistake", he said. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said Gianforte was a "wannabe Trump", citing the president's occasionally harsh language and behavior.

The election was set when the state's sole House member, Republican Ryan Zinke, left to head the Interior Department.

U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., and U.S. Sen.

As a candidate, he has already had to apologize for his treatment of the press after an incident last month at a meeting of a Christian group where a man complained about reporters and said he wanted to "wring their necks".

"That is wrong and should not have happened". "I wonder how many people in Montana are now going to vote for the guy, though?" "That's not our choice".

Montana's major newspapers withdrew their endorsements of Gianforte on Thursday.

"We are also sick and exhausted - of Gianforte's incessant attacks on the free press", the Helena Independent Record wrote.

"If what was heard on tape and described by eyewitnesses is accurate, the incident in Bozeman is nothing short of assault", the Gazette editorial board wrote. After finding out she worked at CNN, the voter said, "You're lucky someone doesn't pop one of you". But now in Montana, Gianforte's win is reason to question whether Democrats truly have the momentum. And it deals a blow to Democrats who had hoped to frame a victory as a rebuke of President Trump that would give them a shot of momentum ahead of the 2018 midterms.

The Guardian reported claims Gianforte "body slammed" him and broke his glasses at the candidate's headquarters in Bozeman.

He also apologized to the Fox News team that was present during the incident.

Witnesses said he grabbed Ben Jacobs and slammed him to the ground after being asked about the Republican health care bill.

"I'm sick and exhausted of you guys", Gianforte said in the recording.

"Get the hell out of here", Gianforte says. I should not have treated that reporter that way and for that, I am sorry Mr. "Jacobs grabbed Greg's wrist and spun away from Greg, pushing them both to the ground".

The campaign's spokesman Shane Scanlon had a different version of events, as he denied that Gianforte was the aggressor and blamed Jacobs instead.

Steve Stivers, chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, described the outcome as another "hard-fought victory" and applauded Mr. Gianforte for offering up an apology.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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