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Gianforte Wins Special Election Despite Assault Charge

Republican Greg Gianforte defeated Democrat Rob Quist and Libertarian Mark Wicks for Montana’s lone congressional seat despite being charged with misdemeanor assault on the eve of the election.



At what was to be Gianforte’s final rally, he allegedly assaulted Guardian reporter Ben Jacobs when Jacobs questioned Gianforte about his support for the Republican healthcare plan. 
A Fox News television crew who were attending the Bozeman rally reported that Gianforte grabbed Jacobs by the neck and ‘body-slammed’ him into the ground, breaking his glasses. 
There is no video of the incident yet, but the audio was quickly released in which you can hear the confrontation. Gianforte can be heard yelling phrases such as “I’m sick of you guys” and “get the hell out of here” as what sounds like a physical confrontation takes place. 
According to the Gallatin County Sheriff’s Office, Gianforte was charged with misdemeanor assault and is set to appear before the court some time before June 7. The Gallatin County Sheriff’s Office also said that the injuries sustained by Jacobs don’t meet the statutory elements of felony assault. 
Gianforte’s assault charge carries a maximum penalty of six months in jail and a $500 fine. 
In an unprecedented move, The Billings Gazette, The Missoulian and The Independent Record all rescinded their endorsements of Gianforte just hours before the special election. 
However, none of this effected the election. According to the Associated Press, more than half of all voters had already cast ballots before the alleged assault occurred. 
Gianforte’s camp initially blamed the reporter in statements that contradicted both eyewitness accounts and the audio recorded by Jacobs. However, after Gianforte was declared the winner, he issued an apology to Jacobs for assaulting him. 
With all precincts reporting, Gianforte received 50.2 percent of the vote with 189,473 votes. Quist received 44.1 percent of the vote with 166,483 votes. Wicks received 5.7 percent of the vote with 21,509 votes. 
Roosevelt County skewed towards Rob Quist as he received 49.3 percent, 1,022 votes, of the votes in the county. Gianforte received 916 votes and Wicks received 135 votes. 
Yellowstone and Flathead counties skewed toward Gianforte, while Missoula, Gallatin and Lewis and Clark counties were won by Quist. Rural voters in north and southeastern Montana helped carry Gianforte in the election.