Gianforte wins Montana’s House seat, apologizes to reporter

BOZEMAN, Mont. — Republican multimillionaire Greg Gianforte won Montana’s only U.S. House seat Thursday despite being charged a day earlier with assault after witnesses said he grabbed a reporter by the neck and threw him to the ground.

Gianforte cruised to victory after weathering a political firestorm, observes CBS Billings affiliate KTVQ-TV. He won 48 of Montana’s 56 counties, the station notes.

Gianforte, a technology entrepreneur, defeated Democrat Rob Quist to continue the GOP’s two-decade stronghold on the congressional seat. Democrats had hoped Quist, a musician and first-time candidate, could capitalize on a wave of activism following President Trump’s election.

Instead, the win reaffirmed Montana’s voters support for Mr. Trump’s young presidency in a conservative-leaning state that voted overwhelmingly for him in November.

Montana Democratic congressional candidate Rob Quist stands with wife Bonni, left, and daughter Halladay while giving his concession speech in Missoula after Republican rival Greg Gianforte beat lhim in special election on May 25, 2017

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Gianforte was a strong favorite throughout the campaign and that continued even after authorities charged him with misdemeanor assault Wednesday. Witnesses said he grabbed Ben Jacobs, a reporter for The Guardian newspaper, and slammed him to the ground after being asked about the Republican health care bill.

At least two major Montana newspapers, the Billings Gazette, in the state’s largest city, and the Missoulian, in Missoula, Montana’s second-largest city, announced late Wednesday they were rescinding their endorsements of Gianforte.

Jacobs reported in April that Gianforte has financial ties to Russian companies that have been sanctioned by the U.S

CBS News Elections Director Anthony Salvanto said that, based on CBS News estimates as the vote was coming in, there didn’t appear to be a large difference…

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