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Republican charged in assault on reporter leads in bellwether Montana congressional race

Republican Greg Gianforte, who became embroiled in a last-minute tempest over his alleged assault of a newspaper reporter, held a solid lead over Democrat Rob Quist, a folk singer and songwriter who wears a trademark Stetson hat, in a special election in Montana to fill a vacant U.S. House of Representatives seat late Thursday.

With 56% of the vote in, Gianforte had a lead of 49.4% to 44.8% in the race. Mark Wicks, the Libertarian candidate, polled 5.8%.

While there was scant polling in the state during the campaign, Gianforte was widely expected to take the seat. But an altercation with a reporter the night before the election, which led to misdemeanor assault charges being levied against the GOP candidate, threw a monkey wrench into the works late.

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