Just 24 hours after being charged with assault for allegedly body-slamming a reporter in his Bozeman campaign office, Republican Greg Gianforte has won the special election for the U.S. House seat in Montana, The Associated Press has projected.
The race was thrust into the national spotlight in dramatic fashion on Wednesday night after Guardian reporter Ben Jacobs described being “body-slammed” by the GOP candidate, and a Fox News crew who witnessed the incident said the former technology and software executive “grabbed Jacobs by the neck with both hands and slammed him into the ground behind him.”
“I’m sick and tired of you guys,” Gianforte said in audio of the event released by The Guardian. Jacobs told “Good Morning America” Thursday morning, “I went from being vertical one moment to being horizontal the next.”
Nearly 70 percent of votes in Montana were cast early — before the alleged assault took place.
Speaking to supporters in Bozeman late Thursday night after his win had been called, Gianforte apologized for his actions.
“When you make a mistake you have to own up to it, that’s the Montana way,” Gianforte said. “Last night I made a mistake… That’s not the person I am and it’s not the way I’ll lead in this state.”
“Rest assured, our work is just beginning, but it does begin with me taking responsibility for my own actions,” he added. “You deserve a congressman who stays out of the limelight and just gets the job done.”
Gianforte’s apology contradicts the statement his campaign released Wednesday evening blaming the incident on “aggressive behavior from a liberal journalist.”
Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel released a statement following Gianforte’s victory approving of his decision to apologize.
“Congressman-elect Greg Gianforte was right to apologize for his actions in Wednesday’s incident,” McDaniel said. “Tonight’s apology was a good first step toward redemption and I hope Gianforte continues to work toward…