Greg Gianforte made a mess of things on the eve of the special election in Montana. Mr. Gianforte faced Democrat Rob Quist in the race to see who will succeed Republican Congressman Ryan Zinke’s at-large seat; Mr. Zinke became President Trump’s secretary of the interior. For some local papers, both men ran flawed campaigns. The Bozeman Daily Chronicle refused to endorse either candidate. Yet, at a meet and greet event in Bozeman, The Guardian’s Ben Jacobs wanted to ask Mr. Gianforte about the CBO score on the GOP health care bill. Gianforte, who was audibly irritated, reportedly body slammed the reporter.
Mr. Gianforte now faces misdemeanor assault charges. In his victory speech last night, the congressman-elect extended an apology to Ben Jacobs (via Fox News):
“When you make a mistake, you have to own up to it. That’s the Montana way. Last night I made a mistake, and I took an action that I can’t take back, and I’m not proud of what happened. I should not have responded in the way that I did, and for that I’m sorry. I should not have treated that reporter that way, and for that I am sorry Mr. Ben Jacobs."
Mr. Gianforte held a 12-point lead over Quist in a Gravis poll from April, though it seems the absentee advantaged he enjoyed alone would have been enough to put him over the top.
Gianforte wins in Montana, according to the AP. TBH, his margin in the early vote was probably enough to win under any realistic scenario— Nate Cohn (@Nate_Cohn) May 26, 2017
Bottom line: given the absentee results, it was never going to be realistic for Quist to erase his deficit on Election Day. #MTAL— Dave Wasserman (@Redistrict) May 26, 2017