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GOP Rep. Greg Gianforte wins Montana governor's race

GOP Rep. Greg Gianforte wins Montana governor's race
© Greg Nash

Rep. Greg GianforteGregory Richard GianforteGOP holds line in state legislatures, dealing blow to Democrats GOP Rep. Greg Gianforte wins Montana governor's race GOP's Rosendale wins Montana House seat MORE (R) has won Montana’s gubernatorial race, bringing an end to a 16-year Democratic streak in the governor’s mansion.

The 59-year-old entrepreneur, who is one of the wealthiest members of Congress, will succeed a term-limited Gov. Steve BullockSteve BullockOVERNIGHT ENERGY: Down ballot races carry environmental implications | US officially exits Paris climate accord  GOP Rep. Greg Gianforte wins Montana governor's race Senate control in flux as counting goes forward in key states MORE (D) after defeating Bullock’s lieutenant governor, Democrat Mike Cooney. Gianforte won 53 percent of the vote.

"I expect Mr. Gianforte to serve with the best interests of all Montanans in mind," Cooney wrote on Twitter. "Public service answers to public accountability, but accountability doesn’t end here. It begins here."

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Bullock, who beat Gianforte by 4 points during the 2016 governor’s race, was defeated by Sen. Steve Daines (R-Mont.) in one of the most competitive 2020 Senate races in the country. 

Gianforte was elected to the state's at-large congressional seat during a special election to replace then-Interior Secretary Ryan ZinkeRyan Keith ZinkeOVERNIGHT ENERGY: Interior shortlist puts focus on New Mexico lawmakers | Progressives criticize Biden transition over volunteer who represented Exxon | Trump DOJ appointees stalled investigation into Zinke: report Trump DOJ appointees stalled investigation into Zinke: report GOP Rep. Greg Gianforte wins Montana governor's race MORE in May 2017. 

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He made headlines during the race when he attacked Ben Jacobs, a reporter for The Guardian, and slammed him to the ground the night before his victory.

Gianforte pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of assault for the incident. He was sentenced to a 180-day deferred sentence, 40 hours of community service, 20 hours of anger management and a $300 fine along with an $85 court fee. 

The Republican lawmaker won reelection during the 2018 midterms but opted to pursue higher office last year.