FILE - In this May 11, 2017, file photo Republican Greg Gianforte, right, welcomes Donald Trump Jr., the U.S. president's son, onto the stage at a rally in East Helena, Mont. Gianforte, charged with shoving a reporter to the ground on the eve of a special election kept a low profile Thursday, May 25, even as supporters prepared a hotel ballroom for a possible victory party.
Photo: AP Photo/Bobby Caina Calvan,File
Photo: AP Photo/Bobby Caina Calvan,File

Gianforte projected to win Montana special election despite alleged attack on reporter

Greg Gianforte - the Republican Congressional candidate charged with assaulting a reporter the day before Montana’s special election - was projected as the winner defeating Democrat Rob Quist, according to Dave Wassserman of fivethirtyeight.com.

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Gianforte was caught on audio allegedly attacking reporter Ben Jacobs of The Guardian U.S. Jacobs had repeatedly questioned Gianforte over the Congressional Budget Office’s score of the House Republicans health care overhaul. On audio recorded by Jacobs’ as he was asking the question, a scuffle is heard followed by Jacobs saying he was body slammed by GIanforte. 

The former businessmen was charged with misdemeanor assault nearly 24 hours before votes were to be counted in the special election to fill the seat left vacant by Republican Ryan Zinke, who joined President Trump’s Cabinet as Secretary of the Interior. 

As of 12:30 a.m. on Friday, with 77 percent of precincts reporting, Gianforte was leading Quist 50-43, with independent candidate Mark Wicks bringing  in 5.6 percent

Gianforte isn’t expected to face ethics charges in the House. His alleged assault of Jacobs was denounced by Montana’s governor, led to several Montana newspapers pulling their endorsement, and earned the ire of several prominent Republicans such as Mike Huckabee and Guy Benson of TownHall.com.

The Montana special election had been controversial from the start. Gianforte often made remarks some thought were controversial; while his opponent Quist had longtime tax issues. 

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