Congratulations to the Democrats for keeping up their perfect electoral streak yesterday, as Republican businessman Greg Gianforte beat Democratic folk singer Rob Quist for Montana’s only congressional seat by about 51-44% at last count. Democrats were desperate for a win, any win. Then on the eve of the election, their prayers seemed to be answered when Gianforte allegedly body-slammed an aggressive reporter from the liberal Guardian newspaper, earning him a misdemeanor assault charge. Several newspapers retracted their endorsements, and Democrats called on him to pull out of the race (that might be their only hope of winning anywhere between the coasts – demand that the Republican give up -- but it didn’t work).
In his victory speech, Gianforte admitted he “should not have treated that reporter that way” and rightly apologized. But the incident, as bad as it was, had little effect on the race since many of the votes had already been cast during early voting (wonder if that will make Democrats rethink their constant efforts to expand the voting period?)
A Democratic organizer associated with Daily Kos tried to spin the loss as a victory, noting that they’d forced Republicans to have to spend in the seven digits to defend a safe seat (conveniently overlooking that Democrats had poured money in the seven digits into the race and still lost, just as they have in other special election races since November.) He also claimed that the assault charge caused a last-minute shift toward Quist (which was questionable; NBC reported that over $100,000 in donations poured in to Gianforte after the assault), and if the election had been held on another day, the Democrat would have won. Yes, we’re always hearing from Democrats that they would have won if only the election had been held on some other day. Unfortunately for them, they only lose when Americans vote on Election Day.
Now comes the awkward moment when Gianforte has to go to Washington and be sworn in. How will his colleagues treat him? Judge Andrew Napolitano pointed out on Fox News that he fulfills all the legal requirements for the office (age, duly elected, resident of his district, etc.) so he can’t be denied his seat. Napolitano said they might try to discipline him after he’s sworn in, but that’s unlikely because it would open up a can of worms they’d rather avoid: punishing a Congress member for something he did before he was elected might also expose them to punishment for any unsavory things they did before getting electing. That’s the last thing they’d want to dig up.
I guess that once you’re in Congress, all your previous sins are forgiven. Congress is sort of like a confession booth, only without the repentance. Or the confession.
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