The special run-off election for a vacated House seat in Montana has been described as “heated.” GOP candidate Greg Gianforte, however, has kicked the heat up a notch, and charged with assault in the process.
Gianforte is in a tight race with Democratic candidate Rob Quist. The race is getting national attention as a way to gauge the mood of the electorate, and Dems have been having success in these special elections.
Speaking at his final rally in Bozeman, on the night before the election, Gianforte took offense to a question from reporter Ben Jacobs of The Guardian, who was interviewing Gianforte at his headquarters.
Jacobs asked the candidate about the recent CBO assessment of the American Healthcare Act, the Republican bill to replace Obamacare. The CBO asserts that 23-million will lose health insurance under the plan.
Gianforte clearly was in no mood to discuss the intricacies of healthcare, and attacked Jacobs, grabbing him by the neck and body slamming him. Jacobs’ glasses were broken in the process, and he was taken to an emergency room for precautionary X-rays.
A local Fox News team was on hand and reported that Gianforte began punching Jacobs, while expressing disgust with the question.
“As Gianforte moved on top of Jacobs, he began yelling something to the effect of, ‘I’m sick and tired of this!’” according to the Fox News account.
Gianforte has been charged with misdemeanor assault. In the wake of the attack, Gianforte lost the endorsements of three major Montana newspapers. The Billings Gazette, The Missoulian and The Helena Independent Record have all rescinded their endorsements of the GOP candidate.
Quist, the Democratic candidate, declined to comment, saying that it was up to law enforcement to comment on the altercation.
It is unclear whether or not this latest development will have much effect on the vote. Because of Montana’s early voting traditions, many votes have already been cast.