Gianforte as Jesus Christ

Peter Linzmaier of Thompson Falls, MT writes to the Missoulian in response to a letter to the editor which asked if it was acceptable with Christians that Rep.-elect Greg Gianforte (R) assaulted a reporter the day before the election:

Jesus assaulted and bodily threw the money changers out of the temple who were trespassing in Gods’ house.

Greg Gianforte emulated Jesus by assaulting Ben Jacobs, who was trespassing and invading his privacy. He also proved to be a real Montanan to his supporters who are not self-proclaimed Christians but abide by the teachings and actions of Jesus.

Democrats Gain Ground In Special Elections

Axios: “There have been three special elections in the Trump era, and although Democrats have yet to flip a seat, they’ve gained considerable ground in each compared to results in the general.”

“A similar situation unfolded in 2009 when three blue-state seats opened up following Obama’s win. The GOP gained ground in each of those special elections (without winning), foreshadowing the 2010 midterms when Republicans picked up 63 seats and took control of the House.”

Matthew Yglesias: “If Republicans are winning in places like Montana by just 7 percentage points, then they are in extreme peril of losing their House majority in November 2018.”

Gianforte Wins In Montana

“Unhampered by being charged with the assault of a reporter just 24 hours earlier, Republican Greg Gianforte on Thursday won the special election to fill Montana’s empty seat in the U.S. House by 7 percentage points,” the Billings Gazette reports.

“The Bozeman technology entrepreneur, who did not appear publicly after the assault until his victory speech late Thursday, traded leads with Democrat Rob Quist as early results came in, but by 10 p.m. he took a lead Quist could not recover from.”

Montana Polls Close

The polls in Montana’s special congressional election race between Greg Gianforte (R) and Rob Quist (D) are now closed.

Nate Silver: “Yeah, my back-of-the-envelope math is that Gianforte is winning the early vote by somewhere in the high single digits (5-9 points). Which might qualify as a moral victory for Democrats, but makes an actual one something of a long-shot for Quist.”

David Wasserman: “The truth is, we’ll never really know where the race stood yesterday, only a messy combination of where it stood pre- and post-slam. That said, I think a 4-8 point Gianforte victory would still be a good sign for Democrats nationally, considering they haven’t come that close in a Montana House race in two decades.”

For members: A Loss In Montana Wouldn’t Be Terrible for Democrats

Another Sign of Our Broken Politics

After congressional candidate Greg Gianforte (R) assaulted a reporter in Montana last night, his campaign blamed “aggressive behavior from a liberal journalist.”

NBC News reports a GOP strategist basically endorsed this statement as a political strategy: “Can’t apologize now. Rally base is only move.”

First Read: “It’s shameful that anyone considers this good strategy. Also in this current state of politics — where winning is everything — there is notable silence from the Republican Party. A little bit more our democracy was weakened last night. As the saying goes, you get the politicians you deserve.”

Gianforte Charged With Assault Day Before Election

Greg Gianforte (R), the Republican candidate in a hotly contested special House election in Montana, “was charged with assaulting a journalist on Wednesday at what was to be a final rally in Bozeman on the eve of the vote,” the New York Times reports.

“Three of the state’s largest newspapers, The Billings Gazette, The Missoulian and The Helena Independent Record, quickly rescinded their endorsements of Mr. Gianforte. But prospects that the altercation could tip the race to the Democrat, Rob Quist, were complicated by Montana’s early-voting tradition: Over half the estimated total ballots in the contest had been returned by Wednesday.”

The eyewitness account by Fox News reporters is really remarkable.

GOP Candidate ‘Body-Slams’ Reporter in Montana

“The Republican candidate for Montana’s congressional seat slammed a Guardian reporter to the floor on the eve of the state’s special election, breaking his glasses and shouting, ‘Get the hell out of here,'” The Guardian reports.

“Ben Jacobs, a Guardian political reporter, was asking Greg Gianforte (R), a tech millionaire running for the seat vacated by Ryan Zinke, about the Republican healthcare plan when the candidate allegedly ‘body-slammed’ the reporter.”

Listen to the audio here.

BuzzFeed reporter Alexis Levinson tweeted that she saw it happen: “Ben walked into a room where a local TV crew was set up for an interview with Gianforte. All of a sudden, I heard a giant crash and saw Ben’s feet fly in the air as he hit the floor.”

$17 Million Spent on Montana Special Election

“Campaign spending in Montana’s U.S. House race is surging in the final days with significant amounts placed on getting out the vote,” the Helena Independent Record reports.

“Campaign spending has surged deep into record territory, with at least $17 million flowing into the race from the campaigns and outside groups hoping to influence the nationally watched contest. Republicans are significantly outspending Democrats, according to donation and expenditure reports filed in the last weeks of the campaign.”

Montana Race ‘Is Closer than it Should Be’

Politico: “It’s a recurring nightmare of a pattern for Republicans around the country, as traditional GOP strongholds prove more difficult and expensive for the party to hold than it ever anticipated when President Donald Trump plucked House members like Ryan Zinke, the former Montana Republican now running the Interior Department, for his Cabinet. Gianforte is still favored to keep the seat red, but a state Trump carried by 20 percentage points last year became a battleground in the past few months.”

For members: Special Election Upset Brewing in Montana?

Montana Candidate Caught on Tape Praising Health Bill

“When Greg Gianforte (R), the Republican running for an open House seat in Montana, was asked on Thursday whether he would have supported the bill repealing the Affordable Care Act that passed the House that day, he declined to answer,” the New York Times reports.

But on the same day, during a private conference call with Republican-leaning lobbyists in Washington, Gianforte offered a more supportive view of the health bill: “The votes in the House are going to determine whether we get tax reform done, sounds like we just passed a health care thing, which I’m thankful for, sounds like we’re starting to repeal and replace.”

Democrats Make Big Investment In Montana

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is investing an additional $400,000 in Rob Quist’s (D) campaign to fill the Montana congressional seat left vacant when former Rep. Ryan Zinke (R-MT) was sworn in as the interior secretary, the HuffPost reports.

“The new donation brings the DCCC’s total investment in Quist to $600,000. On April 20, the DCCC invested $200,000 in the folk singer, which was used to buy political ads for Quist’s campaign. According to Kelly, the additional money will be invested in a program aimed at getting likely independent and Democratic voters to vote by mail, which accounts for approximately 60 percent of Montana’s voters, as well as to buy more TV ads.”

Montana Democrats Demand Party Attention

New York Times: “After a hard-fought campaign to fill a House seat in the Atlanta suburbs fell just short of outright victory on Tuesday, the House seat in Montana vacated by Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is up next, and a groundswell of new activism on the left is demanding attention.”

“Democrats have now chalked up a closer-than-expected loss in a House special election in Kansas this month and a near miss in Georgia, leading logically to discussions of how hard to play going forward — not only in the June 20 runoff between their first-time candidate Jon Ossoff and the Republican Karen Handel in Georgia, but also in looming House races in Montana and South Carolina.”

“But grass-roots liberals are not about to let party leaders lapse back into traditional red state, blue state assumptions. Instead, the Democrats’ enthusiastic base is demanding to compete on terrain that once seemed forbidding, a formula for disputes now and in 2018 about where to put the party’s money and field operations.”