A Republican congressional candidate in Montana has found himself in the spotlight on election day for all the wrong reasons, charged with misdemeanor assault after he allegedly slammed a journalist to the ground and broke his glasses on the eve of the special election.
Ben Jacobs, a political reporter for The Guardian says Gianforte was in a room prepping for an interview with a Fox News crew on Wednesday night. Apparently, Jacobs entered the room with his tape recorder, approached Gianforte, and asked him for his response to the Congressional Budget Office’s score of the Republican plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, which had released earlier in the day. In audio recorded of the incident Gianforte can be heard telling Jacobs that they’d talk with him later, but Jacobs presses Gianforte for an answer.
The Fox News crew that was scheduled to interview Gianforte witnessed the incident and published an account that seems to corroborate what Jacobs said happened. Gianforte’s campaign statement tells a different story, alleging that Jacobs was the instigator and aggressor.
Across the country, many are looking at the race as a referendum on Donald Trump’s presidency. Gianforte has been the frontrunner for most of the race, though Democratic opponent Rob Quist has closed the gap in the waning days of the race. It’s unclear how much of an impact the incident will have on the election results, as many ballots had been cast absentee before the incident on Wednesday.
Greg Neft, news director for Newsradio KCAP in Helena, Montana; he tweets @GregNeft