Gianforte, a tech millionaire backed by President Donald Trump, defeated folk singer Rob Quist, 50-44, early Friday morning in the race for the at-large - or statewide - U.S. House of Representatives district.
That night, Gianforte's campaign released a statement with a version of events that did not match the audio recording, and the candidate stayed silent on Election Day.
Some of his supporters responded at the victory speech by telling Gianforte, "You are forgiven". "That's the Montana way".
"Last night I made a mistake, and I took an action that I can't take back".
"I should not have treated that reporter that way, and for that I'm sorry Mr". For that I'm sorry.
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Now that he's won election to Congress, Democrats will have a hard time keeping Gianforte out of office, misdemeanor assault conviction or not. "Ben Jacobs", Gianforte told the crowd. Not only does Montana lean very heavily on the Republican side - President Trump took the state by twenty points - but thanks to their high early voting turnout, over half the votes were cast before the altercation. Jacobs told "Good Morning America" Thursday morning, "I went from being vertical one moment to being horizontal the next".
But after he was declared the victor, Gianforte apologized for the attack.
"That is not the person I am or the leader I will be for Montana", he added.
Greg Gianforte campaigning with Donald Trump Jr.
"There's never a call for physical altercations", Ryan said during a press conference on Thursday.
The state's Democratic governor, Steve Bullock, described it as "a wake-up call to all Montanans and Americans". It also suggests that, despite reports of Trump's lack of popularity, Republicans are still capable of winning statewide office - something that could worry Democrats looking to retake the House and Senate in 2018.