My sources in Missoula have read me portions of the Montana GOP’s secret campaign manual. The top three electoral principles there, according to the source, are, (1) use your jab, (2) throw combinations, and (3) work the body. The manual refers to candidates as “contenders.”
OK, just having a little fun with the latest news out of the Montana special congressional race, scheduled for 10 rounds today, with no three knockdown rule. Be clear that I’m not recommending pounding lumps on cheeky reporters, even annoying lefties from the Guardian. But my guess is Republican congressional candidate Greg Gianforte may gain as many votes as he loses as the news gets out that Wednesday he body-slammed a Guardian reporter. Gianforte’s campaign said the reporter entered Gianforte’s office without permission, shoved a recorder into his face, and starting asking “badgering questions.” After dumping the reporter, Gianforte told him, not gently, to, “Get the hell out of here!”
This scenario is many a candidate’s dream, but it’s probably also bad judgement. Gianforte now faces a misdemeanor assault charge. It’s hard to know what the legal consequence of this will turn out to be. Back when Montana was Montana, and no one assumed that politicians’ offices were safe spaces for reporters, if Gianforte were found guilty of unhorsing a reporter he would have likely been fined $5 or court costs, whichever was less. He could have had his record expunged if he didn’t hit another reporter for three weeks, or if he bought a round for the courthouse gang down at The Broken Spur. But today, who knows? Perhaps he’ll have to buy a stuffed bear for the reporter, who was treated and released at a Missoula hospital and seems none the worse for wear in television appearances today.
Also not known is how the news will affect the outcome of the race. Nearly half of voters have already cast their ballots by absentee, and those remaining can vote today. We’ll know the result late tonight (it gets late pretty late in Montana). Perhaps Michael Buffer could announce the winner. If Gianforte wins, it’s not known yet if he will get a championship belt along with a key to the House of Representatives gym.
Montana, with just a hair over one million residents, and which went with Donald Trump by 21 points in November, has just the one congressional seat. This special election was made necessary because the seat was vacated by former Congressman Ryan Zink, who became Donald Trump’s Secretary of the Interior.
The Democrat candidate in this race is folk-singer Rob Quist, whose main assets for representing Montana in the U.S. Congress seem to be that he was born in Montana and wears a cowboy hat. But singing cowboys went out of style with those 50-minute, grade-B westerns of the forties and early-fifties. A visit to Quist’s campaign site informs us that Quist is a supporter of Second Amendment rights, but is otherwise an off-the-rack liberal. Businessman Gianforte is a drain-the-swamp conservative. We go to the score-cards tonight.