Gianforte wins vote despite reporter 'assault' row

Gianforte's defeat would also give Democrats momentum heading into two special House elections for Republican-held seats next month, in Georgia and SC. "I understand the frustrations that people feel because we can't hardly go to a town hall without it just being a total denial of free speech".

(AP Photo/Bobby Caina Calvan, File).

Of the 45,868 registered voters, ballots for 27,218 had been counted as of about 10:45 p.m. while counting continued.

Greg Gianforte Republican candidate for a U.S. House seat in Montana contradicted allegedly body slammed a reporter for "aggressive behavior from a liberal journalist". According to The Associated Press, with 98 percent of the vote in, Gianforte was winning 50 percent to Quist's 44 percent. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., who won the state's presidential primary past year, and Quist had hoped to ride that same populist wave to an upset victory.

Instead, the win reaffirmed Montana's voters support for Trump's young presidency in a conservative-leaning state that voted overwhelmingly for him in November. Fox News Channel reporter Alicia Acuna, who was preparing to interview Gianforte, said the candidate "grabbed Jacobs by the neck with both hands and slammed him to the ground".

At the beginning of the night, the numbers were close for Gianforte and Democrat challenger Rob Quist, until the Republican candidate started pulling forward around 9:15 pm. But he said, "I think this incident sends an unacceptable signal that physical assault is an appropriate response by an unwanted question by a journalist". "I took an action that I can't take back and I'm not proud of what happened".

"I should not have responded the way I did, and for that I'm sorry", Gianforte said. A run-off election is scheduled for next month in Georgia between Democrat Jon Ossoff and Republican Karen Handel after Mr Ossoff fell just short of winning outright.

Rank-and-file Republicans, who had been hoping for a Gianforte win to relieve some of the pressure around the American Health Care Act's vote and rollout, gave mixed reactions when asked about the allegations. That there wasn't, you know, a door that I pushed through or crawled through a window...

Early voting had already begun in Montana and polls opened on Thursday to determine who will represent the entire state in the House of Representatives after Ryan Zinke left office to serve as secretary of the interior.

"Get the hell out of here", Gianforte says.

Ben Jacobs had been trying to question Gianforte about a new Congressional Budget Office analysis of the House health care bill.

Daily local news headlines from across Gwinnett County.

The multimillionaire tech entrepreneur, a vocal supporter of President Trump, was the target of national backlash after he attacked Guardian reporter Ben Jacobs on the eve of the election.

The candidate, who's running in a special election today, has been charged for the assault.

But at least 260,000 votes had been cast absentee before the incident occurred, and Republicans said Thursday they sensed that the altercation hadn't made much difference - even in the face of intense national, state and even global coverage of the election and alleged assault.

Shaun Scott, a computer science professor at Carroll College in Helena, said the assault charge was barely a factor in his decision. "You don't have to like it and you don't have to talk to us".

My experiment demonstrates that when it comes to matters of fact, it is statements from people who speak against their apparent interests - in this case Republicans talking about policies advanced by a Democratic president and Congress - that are most surprising and have the most power.

Gianforte was boosted by Vice President Pence and millions in ads bought by national Republican groups.

It was unclear if Gianforte's assault had an impact on the vote.

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