Montana election pits behavior against partisan loyalties

Robyn Valdez
May 26, 2017

Yet Gianforte also carried considerable baggage: While the governor's race raised his profile, Montanans also spent months watching Democrats' ads attacking his views and branding him as a self-interested tycoon with no roots in the state or respect for its traditions.

Acuna and her crew "watched in disbelief as Gianforte then began punching the reporter".

(AP Photo/Bobby Caina Calvan, file).

The race between Gianforte, 56, and Democrat Rob Quist, a 69-year-old folk singer and political newbie, had been focusing on Montanans' concerns about United States health care policy, and was also seen as a referendum on Trump's presidency.

The race ultimately turned on the weaknesses of both Gianforte and his opponent, folk singer and Democrat Rob Quist, making it tough to use as a barometer for the nation's political mood.

Libertarian candidate Mark Wicks, a rancher from Inverness, eked out 20,693 votes, or 6 percent. And in Montana this week it got nastier still when Republican Congressional Candidate Greg Gianforte allegedly "body slammed" reporter Ben Jacobs of the UK's Guardian for pressing the candidate during an interview on healthcare issues.

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

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Shaun Scott, a computer science professor at Carroll College in Helena, voted for Gianforte despite the assault charge, saying it was barely a factor in his decision.

A large number of absentee votes had already been cast prior to election day, with 259,558 having already been received before the polls opened on Thursday.

MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell said that Trump has helped whip up "hostility" toward the press, while Joe Scarborough said a "straight line" can be drawn between Trump's anti-media rhetoric and the Gianforte incident. "I went from being vertical one moment to being horizontal the next", he said. Sinclair, which owns 173 outlets nationwide and is poised to add dozens more, has history of boosting Republican candidates. 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.

"It's unfortunate", said that statement, "that this aggressive behavior from a liberal journalist created this scene at our campaign volunteer BBQ".

Montana is an unorthodox state.

Voters lean Republican and prefer iconoclasts along with limited government and their right to bear arms.

Gianforte could face a maximum $500 fine or six months in jail if convicted; hes due in court on or before June 7.

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Gallatin County Sheriff Brian Gootkin has donated money - $250 - to Gianforte, and he apologized during a Thursday news conference for not disclosing that fact. The county prosecutor is reviewing the case.

With a majority of the precincts reporting, Gianforte led by a 49-44 margin.

Speaker of the House Paul Ryan called on Gianforte to apologize, while the White House offered a "no comment" when asked about Trump's endorsement of the Montana Republican.

Gianforte also echoed numerous catch phrases that rang through Trump's campaign, promising to "drain the swamp" and "make America great again", a message consistent with his recent candidacy. If Gianforte goes down, Senate Republicans are going to panic about their next step on health care.

"But I can understand how somebody could push somebody's buttons", she said.

"It was perhaps the most surreal experiences in my life", he said.

"Messengers of the Right: Conservative Media and the Transformation of American Politics" cites a variety of reasons for conservative disillusionment with the mainstream media, including the expanded social-safety net of the 1930s and at the internationalists who pushed the US into the Second World War.

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