On Wednesday, the Republican candidate in Montana's special congressional election, Greg Gianforte, was charged with misdemeanor assault after he allegedly body slammed a Guardian political reporter, Ben Jacobs. Gianforte, a technology entrepreneur, defeated Democrat Quist to continue the GOP's two-decade stronghold on the congressional seat.
Republican Tina Stark of Townsend said she doesn't know Gianforte or whether has a temper. "But I can understand how somebody could push somebody's buttons", said Republican voter Tina Stark of Townsend, a suburb of Helena.
It was unclear just how the fracas might alter the race.
A large number of absentee votes had already been cast prior to election day, with 259,558 having already been received before the polls opened on Thursday.
With voting in progress Thursday, Gianforte faced mounting public demands from Republican leaders, including Speaker Paul D. Ryan and Sen.
Gianforte's victory spares his party the short-term pain of losing a reliably Republican seat in Congress but at the cost of having the newest member of the House majority arrive in Washington under a legal cloud. "As Gianforte moved on top of Jacobs, he began yelling something to the effect of, 'I'm sick and exhausted of this!'" They added, "To be clear, at no point did any of us who witnessed this assault see Jacobs show any form of physical aggression toward Gianforte, who left the area after giving statements to local sheriff's deputies". "Politics are pretty entrenched right now in terms of who people are going to follow and who people are going to vote for".
Stier said he thinks both Gianforte and the reporter, Ben Jacobs, should apologize to each other.
As Jacobs pressed the candidate on the GOP health care bill, "Gianforte grabbed Jacobs by the neck with both hands and slammed him into the ground behind him", Fox News reporter Alicia Acuna wrote in an article. She added that Gianforte then began to punch Jacobs.
Gianforte's campaign did not deny Jacobs' allegation but countered in its own statement that the reporter provoked an altercation by barging into the candidate's office, shoving a recording device in his face and "asking badgering questions".
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"You just body slammed me and broke my glasses", Jacobs said.
"I think if you've done something wrong, you should apologize", Vicki Hampson said.
His spokesman said Gianforte did not oversee his portfolio on a day-to-day basis. Two people at his campaign headquarters in Bozeman referred all questions to Scanlon, who could not be reached.
A longtime conservative strategist expressed disbelief that people were cheering on Gianforte's actions: "If this is where you are, you're not a party; you're a mob".
At a campaign stop in Hamilton in April, a Gianforte supporter asked the candidate how to rein in the news media, which the man called "our biggest enemy". Twice it seemed someone picked up then immediately hung up.
According to the audio tape, Jacobs' encounter with Gianforte turned violent when he tried to ask the candidate if he supported a Republican healthcare overhaul bill after the Congressional Budget Office found the measure would cost 23 million Americans their medical insurance coverage by 2026. He said of the politician's account: "The only thing that is factually correct.is my name and place of employment".
Gianforte was charged with misdemeanor assault and is scheduled to appear in court next month. Assaults that cause serious physical injuries or involve weapons are treated as felonies.
Gootkin previously had contributed $250 to Gianfortes campaign, according to elections records.
Later Thursday, some Fox News commentators offered justifications for Gianforte's behavior in on-air appearances.