GOP Montana win may be blip in Democrats' anti-Trump hopes

Montana special election Republican Greg Gianforte in the lead

Three Montana news publications withdrew their endorsements, and even House Speaker Paul Ryan condemned Gianforte's actions.

Gianforte is now an issue for Republicans after he was caught on audio recording body-slamming reporter Ben Jacobs during a confrontation.

Gianforte was charged with misdemeanor assault on Wednesday, the night before the election, after he brutalized a journalist at a campaign event in front of several witnesses.

"Last night, I made a mistake and I took an action that I can't take back - and I'm not proud of what happened", Gianforte said during his victory speech in Bozeman.

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"Wow, I guess the GOP really has become the party of Donald Trump", said Meyers, showing a clip of Trump body-slamming WWE CEO Vince McMahon.

The apology came after several GOP lawmakers called for Gianforte to say he was sorry to Jacobs.

"You deserve a congressman who stays out of the limelight and just gets the job done", said Gianforte.

The Montana race focused on Mr Quist's history of financial problems and Mr Gianforte's stance on House Republicans' effort to dismantle Obamacare.

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On CBS' Late Show, Stephen Colbert touched on the special congressional election saying Gianforte may or may not win but "he will definitely win the next Wrestlemania".

Gianforte had to silence his crowd of supporters to apologize. The office of Montana's secretary of state released a statement saying almost 70 percent of ballots had been cast prior to Election Day, anyway: even if persuadable constituents had a change of heart after Wednesday night, for many of them it was too late.

Still, Republicans now have to answer for the fact that one of their own elected officials is now facing assault charges. 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. National Republican Congressional Committee Chair Rep. Steve Stivers said Gianforte was "totally out of character, but we all make mistakes". Gianforte appeared with Donald Trump, Jr. and Vice President Mike Pence; the Democrat rallied with Vermont senator Bernie Sanders. Sen. Party strategists argued that Gianforte's margin in a state where Trump swamped Hillary Clinton by 20 points bodes well for dozens of other districts where the parties are more evenly matched. Democrats would have to pick up 24 seats in next year's elections to retake the House majority.

He criticized Gianforte's statement following the incident, which Meyers said tried to make the politician himself sound like a victim. Quist gained the most ground in non-urban precincts.

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