After being charged with allegedly assaulting reporter, Gianforte wins Montana House seat

Montana special election Gianforte in the lead

Justin Sullivan Getty Images Greg Gianforte

Republican Greg Gianforte beat Democrat Rob Quist in a special election for Montana's lone at-large House seat. Media called the special election to replace Ryan Zinke, who now is Trump's Secretary of the Interior, an early test of Trump's popularity, which POTUS acknowledged in an unsolicited shout-out from the G7 summit in Italy.

Just one night before the polls opened, Gianforte violently assaulted Guardian reporter Ben Jacobs, who asked him about the House Obamacare repeal during an event in Bozeman.

The altercation took place after Jacobs asked Gianforte about the Republican health care bill meant to replace Barack Obama's signature health reforms.

Gallatin County Sheriff Brian Gootkin said Gianforte was issued a citation Wednesday night.

Gianforte has since apologised for his behaviour, saying it is "the Montana way" to own up to mistakes. "That's the Montana way. I took an action I can't take back and I am not proud of what happened". I should not have treated the reporter that way. Gianforte was later charged with misdemeanor assault.

Jacobs posted audio of the incident in which Gianforte appears to say "The last time you came in here you did the same thing". At that point, I told him and Scanlon, who was now present, that we needed a moment. "That's the Montana way", said Gianforte.

Gianforte dropped out of sight after he was cited by police and ignored calls on Thursday by national Republicans for him to apologise to the reporter.

"That's not the person I am, and it's not the way I'll lead in this state", he said. Jacobs told "Good Morning America" Thursday morning, "I went from being vertical one moment to being horizontal the next".

But during his congressional campaign, Gianforte was a passionate Trump supporter who urged Montana voters to help "drain the swamp". "Elections are about choices and Montanans made their choice-selecting Greg Gianforte to represent them in Congress", Zack Roday said in a statement.

Importantly for President Donald Trump, Gianforte's win marks the latest retained Republican seat, kept by the GOP even as the seat-holder was drafted into the Trump administration.

Ryan told reporters at a news conference, "Physical adjustment?"

Mr Gianforte, a multimillionaire technology executive and Christian conservative, beat Mr Quist, a banjo-playing folk singer, to fill an empty seat in the House of Representatives.

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