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After being charged with allegedly assaulting reporter, Gianforte wins Montana House seat

Posted: 7:11 PM, May 25, 2017
Updated: 2017-05-26 13:08:27Z

One day after Republican candidate for Congress Greg Gianforte allegedly body slammed a reporter, he won Montana's only House seat over Democrat Rob Quist in a special election on Thursday.

The special election was made possible when former Montana Congressman Ryan Zinke took a spot in the President Trump administration. 

With a majority of the precincts reporting, Gianforte led by a 49-44 margin. 

Gianforte will serve through the end of 2018. 

The Montana election has drawn the interest of partisans as the seat is one of the first Congressional battles since Trump took office. With the possibility of a Democrat holding a US House seat in the state for the first time in two decades, the race drew international attention. 

Gianforte was charged with a misdemeanor of assault after UK Guardian reporter Ben Jacobs attempted to interview the seat's GOP standard-bearer. When Gianforte refused to answer the reporter's question, he allegedly took Jacobs to the ground, breaking Jacobs' glasses. 

Audio released by the Guardian indicated that Jacobs was asking Gianforte a question about health care, when the alleged incident took place. 

“I’m sick and tired of you guys,” Gianforte said in the recording. “The last guy who came here did the same thing. Get the hell out of here. Get the hell out of here. The last guy did the same thing. Are you with the Guardian?”

On Thursday, House Speaker Paul Ryan urged Gianforte to apologize for the incident. 

Immediately following the assault charge, three major Montana newspaper rescinded their endorsements of Gianforte. Despite the rebuke from Montana's media, Montana voters received robocalls from Trump and Vice President Mike Pence urging voters to back Gianforte. 

Montana has traditionally been a "Red State" in presidential elections, but it's not impossible for Democrats to win in the state. Democrats have held the governorship in Montana since 2005, and one of the state's two US Senate seats since 2007.