The special election for Montana's at-large Congressional District was a unusual and unpredictable affair from the beginning, with Democrat Rob Quist, a celebrity folk singer, facing off against Republican Greg Gianforte, a tech millionaire with ties to white nationalists, hate groups, and Russian oil companies.
Polls are slated to close at 8 p.m.(0200 GMT). The incident took place Wednesday, the day before the election, when witnesses said Gianforte slammed to the ground a reporter who was asking him questions about the Republican health care bill. "There's no call for this, no matter what, under any circumstance".
Thursday's election leaves Democrats without a win in special elections since November, with Republicans having won contests in Louisiana, Kansas and now Montana.
In his speech, Gianforte apologized for a altercation at his campaign headquarters with a reporter on the eve of the special election.
After Gianforte told Jacobs to ask his spokesman, there's sound of a scuffle and Gianforte shouting. "I know he has his own version, and I'm sure he's going to have more to say, but there's no call for this, no matter what - on any circumstance". "At no point did any of us who witnessed this assault see Jacobs show any form of physical aggression toward Gianforte", Acuna wrote on the Fox Newswebsite. "Get the hell out of here". Gianforte could be heard on an audio tape yelling at the reporter, Ben Jacobs of The Guardian.
"No matter what ends up happening, the actions of Gianforte don't reflect the values of Montana or the values of its people", Bullock said.
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"When you make a mistake, you have to own up to it", Gianforte told his supporters at his Election Night rally in Bozeman.
The U.S. House seat became vacant after Trump tapped Republican Congressman Ryan Zinke to become Secretary of the Interior.
Gianforte released a statement about the incident, alleging that Jacobs was aggressive.
Gianforte received a citation to appear in court by June 7.
He faces up to six months in county jail and a $500 fine if convicted of misdemeanor assault against a journalist from the British newspaper The Guardian.
At a diner in Helena, Montana, some customers expressed dismay over the incident. "I do not think this is acceptable behavior".
Gianforte, who will defend the seat during next year's mid-term elections, sounded contrite. When Ben asked Gregg a question about the Republican healthcare bill, an infuriated Gianforte reportedly threw the reporter to the ground and punched him. In fact, his campaign initially issued a statement that pinned the blame for the altercation on Jacobs and labelled him a "liberal journalist". "Greg then attempted to grab the phone that was pushed in his face".
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Gianforte wins Montana House race after assault charge
It was hard to determine on election night to what extent voters who cast a ballot Thursday were influenced by the altercation. Gianforte was charged Wednesday evening with misdemeanor assault against Ben Jacobs , a reporter for The Guardian .
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