Today there is an election in Montana to fill the congressional seat vacated by Ryan Zinke when he became Donald Trump’s Secretary of the Interior. Montana only has one congressperson, and the state (and thus that district) went for Trump by 20 percentage points. So the Republican candidate, Greg Gianforte, has been expected to win.
Except that last night, on the eve of the election, Gianforte grabbed a reporter by the neck and body slammed him to the ground (breaking his glasses), then started punching him and yelled at him to “Get the hell out of here.”
Gianforte’s campaign issued a statement trying to blame the altercation on the reporter, saying “It’s unfortunate that this aggressive behavior from a liberal journalist created this scene at our campaign volunteer BBQ.” They also claim that the reporter grabbed Gianforte.
However, eyewitnesses (including a three person news crew from Fox News) contradicted Gianforte’s statement, saying that they didn’t see any physical aggression on the part of the reporter. In addition, an audio recording of the whole thing also directly contradicts Gianforte’s version of the event. In other words, they lied.
The local Sheriff’s office has now cited Gianforte with assault. In addition, at least three large Montana newspapers withdrew their endorsement of Gianforte after the attack. They also noted that previous “jokes” that Gianforte had previously made about beating up reporters were troubling.
The problem is that like many states, Montana allows early voting by mail, and so it is likely that a majority of ballots have already been cast (and cannot be changed). Will the remaining votes today be enough to swing the election? Stay tuned.
Also published on Medium.