Montana election pits behavior against partisan loyalties

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The citation came on the eve of the vote scheduled for Thursday.

Immediately following the assault charge, three major Montana newspaper rescinded their endorsements of Gianforte.

Breitbart News - called "the platform for the alt-right" by its former top executive, current White House chief strategist Stephen Bannon - reported the story straightforwardly, acknowledging that Jacobs' story was supported by an audio and an eyewitness from Fox News. Jacobs: You just body slammed me and broke my glasses.

The Gallatin County Sheriff's Office said it was investigating the allegation and planned to discuss the matter with local prosecutors on Thursday.

The chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, Rep. Steve Stivers, issued a statement hailing Gianforte's win, as well as his apology.

Gootkin also addressed media reports that he had contributed to Gianforte's campaign, acknowledging he had donated $250, but, "This contribution has nothing to do with our investigation which is now complete".

Jacobs entered the office uninvited, and "aggressively shoved a recorder in Greg's face, and began asking badgering questions", the campaign said, as it blamed the incident on "aggressive behavior from a liberal journalist". Jacobs was asked to leave. The exchange was recorded by Jacobs and later released to public by the Guardian. "Greg then attempted to grab the phone that was pushed in his face". Jacob grabbed Greg's wrist, spun away from Greg, pushing them both to the ground. "I'm sick and exhausted of you guys", Gianforte is heard saying.

Polls close at 10 p.m. ET and the count could take awhile, but if you're up and eager to see if Gianforte pays a price for the body slam heard 'round the political world, Decision Desk HQ will have live results. Gianforte is heard making the statements on an audio recording posted by the Guardian.

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When Jacobs says there won't be time, Gianforte says "Just-" and there is a crashing sound. More than a third of the state's registered voters had already submitted ballots before it happened, state election officials said, and some Gianforte supporters shrugged off the charges or said they did not believe published accounts.

Gianforte was cited for misdemeanor assault Wednesday night after witnesses said he slammed to the ground a reporter who was asking him questions about the Republican health care bill. Other names were written on the remaining ballots, according to the county's elections office.

Scarborough, who is no fan of the President, tried to blame Gianforte's actions on Trump. "The fact that they don't realize the difference between those two things, I think reveals why so many Americans despise the press".

While private polling consistently showed him ahead of Quist, Republicans fumed that Gianforte seemed unable to establish a dominant lead.

A race that was expected to be a test of President Donald Trump's political clout ahead of next year's USA congressional elections was jolted by the charge against Gianforte, a wealthy technology executive who had urged voters to send him to Congress to help fellow Republican Trump. Gianforte had held his party's nominee at an arm's length but during the special election, he embraced the president, welcoming Vice President Mike Pence and Donald Trump Jr. for campaign visits and using the president's "Drain the swamp" catchphrase.

Gianforte sitting in a Jeep. It was hard to determine on election night to what extent voters who cast a ballot Thursday were influenced by the altercation.

Quist remained mum about the incident, saying only that it's in the hands of law enforcement, and spent the day in Missoula, where he's having an election-night party of his own.