Republican Greg Gianforte wins Montana special election, CNN projects

Fox News, which had a reporter at the scene of the altercation, reported Wednesday night that Gianforte "grabbed Jacobs by the neck with both hands and slammed him into the ground behind him".

The incident occurred as Jacobs tried to ask Gianforte about healthcare, according to an audio tape.

"I'm sick and exhausted of you guys", Gianforte said on the audio recording. The last time you came here you did the same thing. "One thing is clear: no matter what happens today, the actions of Gianforte do not reflect the values of Montana or its people". He has since been released, the Gallatin County Sheriff's Office said during a press conference Wednesday night, adding it was not aware of the specifics of his injuries. Gianforte is scheduled to appear in state court court before the middle of next month to address misdemeanor assault charges. "My glasses are broken", Jacobs said.

MSNBC's Joe Scarborough used the physical assault of a reporter by Montana GOP congressional candidate Greg Gianforte to rip President Trump for his "thuggish behavior".

And while Gianforte was hesitant to embrace then-candidate Trump during that contest, he has been closely embracing the president this go-round, co-opting his familiar "drain the swamp" phrase and pledging to go to Washington to work with the president.

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.

Democrat Rob Quist, a banjo-playing political newcomer who has performed regularly at a nudist resort and has a long history of tax delinquency, was defeated in Thursday's special election to fill Montana's vacant seat in the House of Representatives, according to the Associated Press.

Gianforte, a wealthy software executive, lost to Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock previous year by about 4 points, even as President Trump rolled to a 20-point win in the state. The president's son, Donald Trump Jr., and Vice President Pence also traveled to the state on his behalf.

The editorial boards of three state newspapers - the Missoulian, the Billings Gazette and the Independent Record - announced late Wednesday night that they were rescinding their previous endorsement of Gianforte. It contends he "aggressively shoved a recorder in Greg's face and began asking badgering questions" before being asked to leave. In a recording of the incident, Gianforte can be heard saying, "You're with The Guardian?". Jacobs then grabbed Gianforte's wrist and both fell to the ground, Scanlon said.

A large majority of votes, however, were cast through early ballots before Gianforte's altercation with Jacobs. Reporters asked why Gianforte had not been detained, and the sheriff said his deputies "got busy with the witnesses and the victim", and Gianforte left.

Hours before Wednesday's assault, the Gianforte campaign sent out a last-minute fundraising appeal to its supporters, saying the outcome "will determine whether we pass Donald Trump's America First agenda or if the fake news media and the national Democrats will win, keeping Obama's reckless policies in place".

The Guardian's U.S. Editor, Lee Glendinning, issued a statement supporting Jacobs. Its U.S. editor, Lee Glendenning, said in a statement: "The Guardian is deeply appalled by how our reporter, Ben Jacobs, was treated in the course of doing his job as a journalist while reporting on the Montana special election. We are committed to holding power to account and we stand by Ben and our team of reporters for the questions they ask and the reporting that is produced".

  • Larry Hoffman