Republican Wins Montana Election After Assault Charge

Gianforte hung on with 51% of the vote
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted May 26, 2017 12:40 AM CDT
Updated May 26, 2017 3:00 AM CDT
Gianforte Wins Montana Special Election
In this May 11 photo, Republican Greg Gianforte, right, welcomes Donald Trump Jr. onto the stage at a rally in East Helena, Mont.   (AP Photo/Bobby Caina Calvan, File)

Republican candidate Greg Gianforte has prevailed in the race for Montana's only US House seat despite having been charged with assaulting a reporter on the eve of the special election. Gianforte had 51% of the vote when the race was called for him, with Democratic folk singer Rob Quist at 44% and Libertarian candidate Mark Wicks at 6%, Politico reports. At his victory party Thursday night, Gianforte apologized to the reporter he allegedly grabbed and slammed to the ground, the AP reports. "I should not have responded the way I did and for that I am sorry," he said. Quist, a first-time candidate, was attempting to become the first Democrat elected to the seat since 1997.

After the incident with Guardian reporter Ben Jacobs, which was witnessed by a Fox News crew, Democrats called for Gianforte to withdraw from the race, the state's leading newspapers withdrew their endorsements, and Republicans including Paul Ryan called for an apology. But Gianforte, a technology entrepreneur, managed to hang on, helped by the fact that more than 200,000 of the state's 700,000 eligible voters had cast early ballots, the Washington Post reports. Quist adviser Matt McKenna accused Gianforte of running an ugly campaign and said that despite the win, Gianforte's political career is doomed, with the governor's office now probably out of reach and jail still a possibility. (More Greg Gianforte stories.)

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