(AP Photo/Bobby Caina Calvan, File).
The wild card is Libertarian Mark Wicks who could upend the political ambitions of his competitors. Derek J. Oestreicher, director of elections and voter services for the Secretary of State, told the Record there is, depending on luck and timing, one way around this, though.
But within hours after Gianforte allegedly assaulted a reporter in Bozeman Wednesday evening, the papers withdrew their endorsements and condemned his actions.
Allegedly. That's how the reporter in question - The Guardian's Ben Jacobs - described the physical altercation he had with Gianforte after he crashed a Fox News interview to ask the Republican about his thoughts on the Congressional Budget Office's score of the GOP health care plan.
Ryan was also asked if he would seat Gianforte as a member of the House Republican conference if he wins. Jacobs rightfully noted that "later" would be too late (the election was the next day). So, I'm not exactly sure what happened. I'm sorry I missed that.
Scott Sales, the Republican president of Montana's state senate, unsuccessfully vied against Gianforte for his party's congressional nomination. Gianforte looked at the three of us and repeatedly apologized.
Quist declined to comment immediately.
Democrats strongly condemned Gianforte after the incident.
A statement from Gianforte's campaign put the blame on Jacobs for the squirmish, saying the Guardian reporter "aggressively shoved" a recorder in the Republican candidate's face. Jacobs is heard on the recording doing his job - asking a candidate for political office a fair question.
Gianforte was charged with assault for attacking Jacobs who had stepped into a room with the congressional candidate and a camera crew from Fox News. Not that you should ever assault anyone (Gianforte has been officially charged with assault by the police), but most people would think twice before strangling someone, body slamming them, and then jumping on them and repeatedly punching their face - in front of witnesses. He's scheduled to appear in county Justice Court by June 7.
It's unclear how an alleged assault of a reporter by a Montana congressional candidate will affect the special election's outcome - in part because more than a third of the state's registered voters cast absentee ballots before polls opened Thursday.
Shaun Scott, a computer science professor at Carroll College in Helena, said the assault charge was barely a factor in his decision.
But Gianforte also benefited from millions of dollars spent on ads and mailers by GOP groups like the Conservative Leadership Fund.
Based on historical data, they "wouldn't expect the Montana House special election to be at all close" since the state has 21 percent more Republicans than the national average.
It would also give Democrats grassroots momentum heading into two special House elections for Republican-held seats next month, in Georgia and SC.
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