Montana election pits behavior against partisan loyalties

The Montana Secretary of State reported Gianforte drawing 181,137 votes, or 50 percent, as of 11:22 p.m. Quist received 155,610 votes, or 44 percent.

The Montana congressional candidate, who was favored to win, has not been seen or heard from Thursday as voters go to the polls.

(AP Photo/Bobby Caina Calvan, file).

Ben Jacobs was allegedly assaulted by Greg Gianforte, a California-born software entrepreneur who then won a vacant congressional seat in Montana. Rob Quist, Gianforte's opponent, might win outright. Libertarian Mark L. Wicks has 5 percent. Montana voters are heading to the polls Thursday, Ma.

Montana has a strong absentee voting tradition, with 259,558 votes - of the state's entire 700,000 registered voters - already banked as of Wednesday night.

Approximately a third of Montana's eligible voters had cast absentee ballots before Gianforte was cited Wednesday by the Gallatin County Sheriff's Office following a confrontation with Guardian reporter Ben Jacobs. Mr. Gianforte said he would get to him later and Jacobs tried again and he said to talk to Shane, his press guy, and at that point, that's when Mr. Gianforte grabbed Jacobs by the neck or the upper body with both hands on him, picked him, dragged him, slammed him to the ground, jumped on him, started punching him and started saying I'm sick and exhausted of this and at that point Jacobs kind of got away from him. House Speaker Paul Ryan has condemned Gianforte's behavior as unacceptable, but on the day of the special election in Montana, Ryan was unwilling to suggest he would call for Gianforte to be refused admission to the House of Representatives.

When asked if Gianforte should apologize to the reporter, the Hampsons said they wanted to see a video of the altercation and had only heard bits and pieces of what happened.

If Gianforte wins the election: "I don't think I'd feel real good about it", said another customer, Richard House, who declined to say whom he voted for.

The last-minute controversy unnerved Republicans, who also faced close calls this year in the traditionally Republican congressional districts in Kansas and Georgia. No Democrat had come within ten points of winning the seat since the 2000 election.

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The Montana special election to fill the seat in the U.S. House left vacant when Ryan Zinke resigned to become secretary of the Interior Department, has drawn national and global attention, especially as Thursday's vote neared.

During his campaign for Congress, Gianforte has prominently featured Trump in his campaign, promising to "drain the swamp" and deploying a robocall from the president.

According to audio from Jacobs, after he pressed Gianforte for his reaction to the CBO score, the would-be congressman then body-slammed him to the ground, breaking his glasses and injuring his elbow. Jacobs' tone was respectful, not badgering as Gianforte's campaign suggested in its statement about the incident.

Gianforte's campaign blamed Jacobs, saying the reporter was being aggressive and grabbed Gianforte - a scenario disputed by a Fox News crew that was in the room at the time.

Gianforte was charged with misdemeanor assault because there was no serious bodily injury, Gootkin said.

Vicki and Mike Hampson of Helena said the alleged assault wasn't enough to change their minds.

"I think if you've done something wrong, you should apologize", Vicki Hampson said.

Republicans have held the state's single seat in the House for two decades. Steve Daines, also criticized Gianforte, but didn't agree that his actions should be disqualifying. "As Gianforte moved on top of Jacobs, he began yelling something to the effect of, 'I'm sick and exhausted of this!'" He echoed the Republican Party mantras of cutting taxes, beefing up the military and securing the country's borders. If Republicans do not demand that of him, we will know for certain that the President's disdain for the media - and the constitution - has spread through the entire party, and that no journalist will ever again be completely safe.

Gianforte's victory is a boost for Republicans, who are anxious Trump's political stumbles and the unpopularity of the healthcare bill passed by the House will hurt their chances to hold a 24-seat House majority in next year's elections. Bernie Sanders of Vermont. He is a gun owner and self-described "strong supporter of our Second Amendment rights". He tried to turn those negatives into positives by saying his story illustrated problems many Montanans face because of high health care costs. He collected almost $3.2 million from individual donors across the U.S.

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