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Greg Gianforte wins the Montana U.S. House special election

26 May 2017

"Not quirky personalities." Quist is a folk musician and first-time candidate.

Instead, the win reaffirmed Montana's support for Mr Trump's young presidency in a conservative-leaning state that voted overwhelmingly for him in November.

Voters were deciding Thursday whether to send Republican candidate Greg Gianforte to Congress after he was charged with assaulting a reporter a day earlier.

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

Gianforte issued a public apology Friday for assaulting the reporter and told his crowd of supporters that he made a mistake by striking the journalist. "Yeah, I think he should apologize", Ryan said.

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But the close margin of the race in Republican-leaning Montana will be encouraging to Democrats, who feel they have a better chance in next month's hotly contested special House election in the suburbs of Atlanta, Georgia.

The Montana race focused on Quist's history of financial problems and Gianforte's stance on House Republicans' effort to dismantle Obamacare.

This special election to elect a replacement for Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke as Montana's lone member of the House of Representatives suddenly got a lot more exciting when Gianforte bodyslammed Guardian reporter Ben Jacobs on Wednesday night.

Three Montana newspapers who had previously endorsed the candidate withdrew their endorsement on Wednesday night, but President Donald Trump, who had endorsed Gianforte via a robocall, did not have a comment Thursday on the alleged assault.

Initially, following the altercation, Gianforte's campaign had blamed Jacobs for the violent incident.

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Gootkin didn't address the discrepancy between Gianforte's campaign's account of the incident Wednesday night, and the audio and witness account from Fox News reporters, according to Bozeman Daily Chronicle reporter Whitney Bermes. Acuna, her field producer and photographer then "watched in disbelief as Gianforte began punching (Jacobs) as he moved to on top of the reporter", she wrote.

GOP lawmakers emerging from a closed-door caucus meeting on Capitol Hill on Thursday said they didn't know the facts about Republican Greg Gianforte being charged with misdemeanor assault.

Shaun Scott, a computer science professor at Carroll College in Helena, voted for Gianforte despite the assault charge, saying it was barely a factor in his decision. The chair of the National Republican Congressional Committee, Rep. Steve Stivers, said in a statement that "this was totally out of character, but we all make mistakes".

Gianforte, who will defend the seat during next year's mid-term elections, sounded contrite.

"We are also sick and exhausted - of Gianforte's incessant attacks on the free press", the Helena Independent Record wrote. He echoed the Republican Party mantras of cutting taxes, beefing up the military and securing the country's borders.

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