Rep. Greg Gianforte (R-Mont.), the businessman politician who notoriously assaulted a reporter on the eve of a special election in 2017, defeated Lt. Gov. Mike Cooney (D-Mont.) in the gubernatorial race. Under Gianforte, Montana will have a unified Republican government, with Republicans controlling the state House, Senate, and governor’s mansion.
Gianforte, a conservative pro-life and pro-Second Amendment Republican who co-founded the software company RightNow Technologies (later acquired by Oracle), assaulted Ben Jacobs, a political reporter with The Guardian. While police charged Gianforte with misdemeanor assault, his campaign raised $100,000 online in the 24 hours after the assault — and he won the election.
Gianforte apologized to Jacobs in his acceptance speech, issued a written apology later, and donated $50,000 to the Committee to Protect Journalists. He also pleaded guilty to misdemeanor assault. He served 40 hours of community service, 20 hours of anger management therapy, and paid a $300 fine.
Gianforte won reelection in 2018. During the recent Congress, he opposed the Democrats’ impeachment effort, opposed raising the minimum wage to $15/hour, supported Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris climate agreement, and supported the U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade agreement.
Gianforte has a strong conservative record and a Trumpian background. His victory in Montana represents a boon for the president and a conservative future for Montana.
Tyler O’Neil is the author of Making Hate Pay: The Corruption of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Follow him on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.