Republican Greg Gianforte defeated a political novice to win Montana’s seat in the U.S. House of Representatives on Thursday, barely 24 hours after he was charged with assaulting a reporter who asked him about the Republican healthcare bill.
A race that was expected to be a test of President Donald Trump’s political influence ahead of next year’s U.S. congressional elections was jolted by the charge against Gianforte, a wealthy technology executive who had urged voters to send him to Congress to help Trump.
Speaking to cheering supporters in Bozeman after his win, Gianforte apologized for the incident and said he was not proud of his actions.
“I should not have responded the way I did, and for that I’m sorry,” Gianforte said. “I should not have treated that reporter that way.”
Gianforte beat Democrat Rob Quist, a banjo player and first-time candidate who had focused his campaign on criticism of the Republican effort to repeal and replace former President Barack Obama’s healthcare law. CNN projected Gianforte would win. With 96 percent of the vote counted, he led Quist by 51 percent to 43 percent.