The fact that Montana congressional candidate Greg Gianforte is originally from New Jersey helps explain the body-slamming and also possibly why he managed to illegally kill an elk “by accident” back in 2000, but it doesn’t do much to explain why he’s a major donor to the Glendive Dinosaur and Fossil Museum where creationism meets mentally crippled reasoning.
Since about two-thirds of Montanans had already voted by the time they learned that Gianforte had battered a reporter for having the effrontery to ask him about a Congressional Budget Office score of the American Health Care Act, it’s not assured that he’ll lose today’s election. He had a modest lead in the polls (for whatever that is worth) and most prognosticators were predicting that he’d pull out a narrow victory.
There’s one reason to be hopeful that this insane and violent person will not be joining Congress, and that’s the fact that Democrats have a tendency to utilize early voting a little more often than Republicans. It’s a trend that could be magnified in our present political environment because of a higher level of energy among those in “The Resistance.” It could be that Gianforte was going into Election Day with a deficit that he was going to easily make up today but that he will now fail to overcome.
Some voters will think that abusing a journalist is a plus, but on balance I think it will hurt Gianforte to get charged with assault while people are going to the polls. The Billings Gazette, The Missoulian and The Helena Independent Record all un-endorsed Gianforte this morning, This incident will hurt him but, coming so late, it may not hurt him enough.
One thing that might become important if Rob Quist wins the special election is that he’d still be an underdog to win reelection, and it now looks unlikely that he’d had have to face Gianforte. It’s not that Gianforte is such a formidable candidate. After all, he lost the governor’s race last year even as Trump was carrying the state by 20 points. But Gianforte is a billionaire and billionaires don’t grow on trees.