With 187,000 absentee votes counted - perhaps almost 50 percent of the expected vote statewide - Gianforte led by 3,000 votes, a 48 percent to 46 percent lead. During his run for the House seat, Gianforte tied himself to Trump, promising to help "drain the swamp" and campaigning with Vice President Mike Pence and Donald Trump Jr.
Early returns are from the more than 250,000 absentee votes cast before election day, counted during the day by county officials and posted soon after the polls closed at 8 p.m.
Republicans have held the states lone congressional seat for two decades.
Gianforte was expected to address supporters at the Hilton Garden Inn in Bozeman Thursday night, possibly after the race was called in his favor.
Yet Ryan said Thursday the people of Montana would decide their next congressman, and declined to say they shouldn't vote for Gianforte. Robocalls are illegal in Montana, according to state law. "Once you voted you can't change your vote". "One thing is clear: no matter what happens today, the actions of Gianforte do not reflect the values of Montana or its people".
"I think if you've done something wrong, you should apologize", Vicki Hampson said. "Politics are pretty entrenched right now in terms of who people are going to follow and who people are going to vote for".
Witnesses said he grabbed Ben Jacobs and slammed him to the ground after being asked about the Republican health care bill.
He allegedly body-slammed Guardian political reporter Ben Jacobs at his campaign headquarters in Bozeman when the journalist approached him with a question on healthcare.
"Greg Gianforte just body slammed me and broke my glasses", Jacobs tweeted before news of the alleged attack quickly spread on social media. The reporter, Ben Jacobs of The Gaurdian, was asking Gianforte for his reaction to the CBO score of the House health care bill. Gianforte: I'm sick and exhausted of you guys.
After clinching the win, Gianforte apologized to the reporter, saying he "learned a lesson". Gianforte could be fined up to $500 or get six months in jail if convicted.
Gianforte was keeping a low profile Thursday and could not be reached for comment.
The ballroom at the hotel is decorated with balloons and signs in support of Gianforte. Gianforte looked at the three of us and repeatedly apologized.
When Jacobs says there wont be time, Gianforte says Just- and there is a crashing sound.
Jacobs said Thursday of Gianforte's account that "the only thing that is factually correct.is my name and place of employment".
Gianforte lost a race to Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock last November by about four points even as Trump rolled to a 20 point victory in the state, and his negatives were still high from the attacks he tried unsuccessfully to deflect then.
The Gallatin County Sheriff's Office says it's investigating allegations of an assault involving Greg Gianforte, a wealthy Bozeman businessman.
Gianforte is due in court on or before June 7.
Later in the night, he was cited for misdemeanor assault by Gallantin County Sheriff.
Gianforte's campaign said Jacobs was the aggressor in the incident and grabbed the candidate's wrist before they both fell to the ground.
- Hamilton fastest in Monaco GP 1st practice
- Manchester attack: Police hunt for Salman Abedi's 'network'
- Chelsea Cancel EPL Victory Parade Over Manchester Terror Attack
- Man United fans loved Josh Harrop's debut against Crystal Palace
- All eyes on Trump at North Atlantic Treaty Organisation summit
- Russian Federation probe: Subpoenas to get Flynn to talk
- Manchester bomber's father says he did not expect attack
- Manchester Police Arrest Suspect After Explosion At Ariana Grande Concert
- Bogaerts has 3 hits, 3 RBIs as Red Sox beat Rangers 11
- Manchester terror attack: 3 more arrests amid fears of second plot