By Martin Kidston
A fixture in the state’s political scene was killed in a vehicle collision on Highway 200 on Monday night while returning from a political event held earlier in the evening in Seeley Lake.
Mike Fellows, 59, a fixture in the state’s Libertarian Party, was pronounced dead at the scene.
According to the Montana Highway Patrol, Fellows was driving a Lexus westbound on Highway 200 when he crossed the center lane and collided with an east-bound Subaru. The driver of the Subaru was transported to St. Patrick Hospital in Missoula.
Earlier that evening, Montana Supreme Court candidates Kristen Juras and Dirk Sandefur participated in a forum hosted by the Seeley Lake Community Council. Other candidates running in other statewide races were also invited to attend, including Fellows.
According to an August story in the Billings Gazette, Fellows checked himself in to St. Patrick Hospital last month due to reported kidney problems. He missed that week’s congressional debate in Billings.
“I felt like driving eight hours on two-lane roads, if something did happen, it was a danger to me and a danger to someone else,” Fellows told the Gazette. “I just wouldn’t risk it.”
The state’s political leaders praised Fellows after learning of his passing.
“Mike Fellows was committed and dedicated to the Libertarian cause,” Gov. Steve Bullock said in a Tweet.
Republican gubernatorial candidate Greg Gianforte Tweeted, “Thoughts and prayers are with the Fellows family.”
Fellows, born in 1957, was the state chair of the Montana Libertarian Party. He ran for Montana’s lone seat in the U.S. Congress several times, making his first attempt in 1998 in a race that included Democrat Robert Deschamps and Republican Rick Hill, who went on to win the race.
He most recently competed in the 2014 Congressional race against Democrat John Lewis and Republican Ryan Zinke, who currently holds the seat.
“Mike was a good man, a determined public servant, and a strong advocate for limited government, fiscal responsibility, and our Second Amendment rights,” Sen. Jon Tester said in a statement. “Montana will miss his contributions to our democracy and our way of life.”
Contact reporter Martin Kidston at email@example.com