Ryan Zinke

Franks Blames ‘the Left’ for Gianforte’s Body Slam
Arizona Republicans says there has been ‘confrontational attitude for several months now’

Rep. Trent Franks, R-Ariz., said he has faced physical confrontations with activists, even at President Donald Trump’s inauguration. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Montana’s incoming congressman Greg Gianforte faced muted criticism from his future Republican colleagues for allegedly assaulting a reporter.

But Arizona Rep. Trent Franks put the blame on the left in an interview Thursday with news radio station KTAR in Phoenix.

How GOP Outside Spending Turned a Loser Into a Winner in Montana
Congressional Leadership Fund spent $2.7 million to boost Greg Gianforte

Greg Gianforte won the special election for Montana’s at-large House seat Thursday despite attacking a reporter the night before. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Six months ago, Republican Greg Gianforte lost Montana’s gubernatorial election by nearly 4 points. Thursday night, he won statewide by about 6 points.

Congressional special elections are, well, special. The electorate is different, and so is the spending. Last fall, Gianforte was running against an incumbent.

Republican Gianforte Wins Montana Special Election
Greg Gianforte prevails despite misdemeanor assault citation on eve of election

Montana Republican Greg Gianforte is heading to Congress after winning a hard-fought special election on Thursday. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Updated 4:34 a.m. | Republican Greg Gianforte won the special election for Montana’s at-large House seat Thursday night.

With 98 percent of precincts reporting, he led Democrat Rob Quist 50 percent to 44 percent, The Associated Press reported. Gianforte will fill the seat vacated by former GOP Rep. Ryan Zinke, who left to become Interior secretary.

Big Spending in Montana Portends a Close Election
Two flawed candidates battle for at-large district Thursday

Republican congressional candidate Greg Gianforte speaks to supporters during a campaign meet and greet Tuesday in Great Falls, Montana.  (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Updated 9:48 p.m. | Ahead of Thursday night’s “body-slamming” incident, most bets were on Republican nominee Greg Gianforte, who’s led by single digits in recent public and private polling, winning Montana’s at-large House seat on Thursday.

But that’d still be a dramatic shift from President Donald Trump’s 20-point victory in the state last fall.

19 House Races Shift Toward Democrats
List of competitive seats grows amid shifts against president’s party

New Jersey Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen’s race for re-election has switched from Solid Republican to Likely Republican. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The midterm elections are still nearly a year and a half away, and the political dynamics could yet change, but we shouldn’t ignore the fact that history and the current environment are merging together for a potentially great set of elections for Democrats in November 2018. 

The president’s party has lost House seats in 18 of the last 20 midterm elections, and it’s lost an average of 33 seats in those 18 elections. Democrats need to gain 24 seats in order to take back the majority. 

Opinion: Montana Special Election Unlikely to Predict Larger Political Trend
But get ready for a barrage of talking points

Democrat Rob Quist, right, is vying with Republican Greg Gianforte in the race for Montana’s at-large House seat. (Courtesy Greg for Montana, Rob Quist for Montana)

Sometime after 10 p.m. Thursday in Washington, everyone in politics will feign being an expert on Montana or, as they will call it with an insider’s flourish, Big Sky Country. The returns from the first statewide race of the Trump era will inevitably trigger the type of frenzied over-analysis reserved for special elections at moments of political turmoil.

If the Republicans hang on to the House seat vacated by Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, the sighs of relief from imperiled GOP incumbents may set off every wind chime in the D.C. area. Greg Gianforte, who ran 47,000 votes behind Donald Trump in a losing 2016 bid for governor, brings to the race two decided advantages — he is rich (he sold his software company for $1.5 billion in 2011) and he is a Republican.

Sanders to Campaign for Democrat Quist in Montana
Vermont senator won state’s primary over Hillary Clinton last year

Sen. Bernie Sanders will campaign for Montana Democratic congressional candidate Rob Quist in four cities over two days next weekend.

Montana Candidate’s Comments Raise Questions About Corporate Money
Gianforte and Quist both claim they refuse industry PAC contributions

Republican Greg Gianforte, left, is running against Democrat Rob Quist in a special election to fill the at-large Montana congressional seat vacated by former Rep. Ryan Zinke, who’s now serving as secretary of the Interior.

Comments made by Montana Republican Greg Gianforte on a national fundraising call last week raise questions about what he meant when he said that industry PACs could contribute to “our Victory Fund.”

Both Gianforte and Democrat Rob Quist say they have refused to accept corporate PAC money in the race for Montana’s at-large House seat. But when asked on last week’s call, audio of which was obtained by CQ Roll Call, whether he still did not accept PAC money, Gianforte gave a confusing answer. 

Supreme Court to Explore Power of Congress to Affect Lawsuits
Separation of powers between branches is at issue

Chief Justice John Roberts has previously been skeptical of allowing Congress to weigh in on dismissing lawsuits with legislation. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The Supreme Court agreed Monday to decide a case that could reshape Congress’ power to use legislation to affect the outcome of specific ongoing court cases — in this instance, a 2014 law about a Michigan land tract and its use as a Native American casino.

The move puts the justices back into a long chain of litigation and legislation about whether the Interior Department could take that tract into trust for the Gun Lake Tribe of Pottawatomi Indians to pave the way for gaming operations — and whether a nearby resident can sue to stop it.

One Month Until Republicans’ Latest Round of Excuses
Special election for Montana seat moves from Solid Republican to Likely Republican

If Republicans struggle to hold Montana’s at-large district, where Republican Greg Gianforte, left, takes on Democrat Rob Quist in a May special election, it would be yet another indication of the effect President Donald Trump is having on Democratic enthusiasm, Gonzales writes. (Photos courtesy Greg for Montana, Rob Quist for Montana)

When it comes to special election results, Republicans always have an excuse, and their stumbles are never a national trend.

In Kansas, Republicans turned a 27-point victory for Donald Trump in 2016 into a recent 7-point special election victory for state Treasurer Ron Estes even though Democratic lawyer James Thompson had virtually no support from local or national Democrats.