On a national scale, the election in Montana is considered a gauge of President Donald Trump’s influence, with whom Gianforte has aligned his political views since Trump’s win. The president made a robocall on behalf of Gianforte and Donald Trump Jr., the president’s son, campaigned with him last month. Sen. Bernie Sanders (Independent-Vt.) has stumped for Quist.
The millionaire Gianforte’s anti-abortion views, his support of Focus on the Family and the conservative Heritage Foundation, and his family foundation’s contributions to the creationist institution Glendive Dinosaur and Fossil Museum, run to the polar-opposite of tech.
“It’s as much about winning seats (for Democrats) as an anti-Gianforte initiative,” says Jessica Alter, an entrepreneur who co-founded Tech for Campaigns, a San Francisco and New York nonprofit that has helped the Quist campaign by matching it highly skilled workers in social media marketing and data analysis. “But we obviously don’t approve of his views on abortion and health care (he opposes the Affordable Care Act).”
Late Wednesday, a reporter for Britain’s The Guardian newspaper claimed he was “body slammed” by Gianforte after he tried to interview the candidate, a scenario corroborated by a Fox News reporter in the same room. Gianforte denied the charges, detailing a different series of events. The local county sheriff said its investigation determined there was a probable cause to cite Gianforte for misdemeanor assault, and three Montana newspapers pulled their endorsement.
In a statement, the campaign blamed the “aggressive behavior from a liberal journalist.” It did not return an email seeking a request for comment.
Gianforte, 56, who failed in his bid for governor last year while distancing himself from then-candidate Trump, made his money far from the great outdoors of Montana. It was in Silicon Valley that RightNow gained fame before it was bought by Oracle. But Gianforte built the company in Bozeman without external help or capital. He shared his business philosophy in his book, Bootstrapping Your Business: Start and Grow a Successful Company.
“He was focused, hard-driving and assertive as any good CEO should be,” said Sabrina Horn, a communications executive who worked with Gianforte in the early 2000s.
Others who knew him in the tech industry as he grew RightNow also describe him as assertive, as well as charming. But he could also hold a grudge and manifested flashes of anger — especially if you disagreed