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Greg Gianforte, Rob Quist in tight battle for Montana special election House seat

Republican Greg Gianforte has opened up a lead over Democrat Rob Quist in the special election in Montana two hours after polls closed.

With 65 percent of the precincts reporting, Mr. Gianforte held a 49.9 percent to 44.2 percent lead over Mr. Quist, a political newcomer. Libertarian candidate Mark Wicks had 5.9 percent.

Mr. Gianforte entered the race as the clear favorite, but he struggled to put the race away in a state that President Trump carried by more than 20 percentage points in the 2016 election.

The race took a bizarre turn this week after Mr. Gianforte allegedly body slammed a reporter after he asked the candidate a question about the latest Congressional Budget Office analysis that found the House GOP’s health care bill would leave 23 million fewer people without health coverage.

Mr. Gianforte was charged with misdemeanor assault charge and the episode lifted the hopes of Democrats.

Mr. Quist, a folk singer and political newcomer, focused on the health care bill in the closings weeks of the campaign and argued that Mr. Gianforte could not be trusted on the issue.

It is unclear, though, how much the altercation would affect the outcome of the race, as some voters appeared embolden to vote for Mr. Gianforte following his tussle with a reporter.

Plus, more than 200,000 absentee ballots were cast before the incident.

Source: www.washingtontimes.com stories: Politics

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