Just 24 hours after being charged with assault for allegedly body-slamming a reporter in his Bozeman campaign office, Republican Greg Gianforte on Thursday defeated Democratic opponent Rob Quist to win the special election for the U.S. House seat in Montana.
The race was thrust into the national spotlight in dramatic fashion on Wednesday night after Guardian reporter Ben Jacobs described being “body-slammed” by the GOP candidate, and a Fox News crew who witnessed the incident said the former technology and software executive “grabbed Jacobs by the neck with both hands and slammed him into the ground behind him.”
“I’m sick and tired of you guys,” Gianforte said in audio of the event released by The Guardian. Jacobs told “Good Morning America” Thursday morning, “I went from being vertical one moment to being horizontal the next.”
After the incident, the Gallatin County Sheriff cited Gianforte for misdemeanor assault, and instructed him to appear in court by June 7.
Trump won the state by more than 20 percentage points in November’s election, though the state re-elected its incumbent Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock by a narrow margin on the same day.
The U.S. House seat became vacant after Trump tapped Republican Congressman Ryan Zinke to become Secretary of the Interior.
Nearly 70 percent of votes in Montana were cast early — before the alleged assault took place. According to the Associated Press, with 95 percent of precincts reporting, Gianforte led 51 percent to Quist’s 43 percent.
Speaking to supporters in Bozeman late Thursday night after his win had been called, Gianforte apologized for his actions on Wednesday.
“When you make a mistake you have to own up to it, that’s the Montana way,” Gianforte said. “Last night I made a mistake… That’s not the person I am and it’s not the way I’ll lead in this state.”