MISSOULA — Perennial Libertarian candidate Michael C. Fellows, 59, of Missoula, was killed in two-vehicle crash near Potomac on Monday night.
"We believe he was coming back from a political event," said Missoula County Undersheriff Jason Johnson.
Fellows, a congressional candidate, participated in a Monday night forum hosted by the Seeley Lake Community Council.
Fellows has run for office every year since 1996, when he ran for Montana House. He ran for the U.S. House in 1998, 2002, 2004, 2006, 2008 and 2010; for Secretary of State in 2000, and for the Montana Supreme Court in 2012. He was unsuccessful every time.
Fellows, who chaired the Montana Libertarian Party and was on the board of the Libertarian National Committee, wrote on his website that "Government is simply force with a little mob rule thrown in."
The Montana Highway Patrol reported that the wreck occurred on Highway 200 near mile marker 17.
Fellows was driving a Lexus westbound on Hwy. 200, when he apparently crossed the center line into the path of an oncoming Subaru Forester driven by a 58-year-old woman from Potomac.
The Subaru attempted to avoid collision by moving to the right, but the Lexus and the Subaru collided in a partial overlap head-on impact. Both cars went off the right shoulder for eastbound traffic.
Fellows was pronounced dead on the scene. The driver of the Subaru was injured and taken to St. Patrick Hospital in Missoula. Road conditions were bare and dry, and both drivers were wearing seatbelts.
Fellows was transported to the Montana State Medical Examiner's office in order to determine a cause of the incident.
His House race opponents, Rep. Ryan Zinke, R-Mont., and Montana Superintendent of Public Instruction Denise Juneau, a Democrat, offered their condolences in a joint statement Tuesday afternoon.
"My sincerest condolences to the Fellows family, his friends, and followers. Mike was a true advocate for the Libertarian cause and a good man. He had incredible passion for his platform and he will be missed in Montana," Zinke said.
"I'm shocked and saddened to hear about the passing of Mike Fellows," said Juneau. "My thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends. Mike was a passionate advocate for his values, and I have always admired his courage and dedication to serving Montana. He will be missed."
U.S. Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., extended his sympathies to the Fellows family, adding in a statement that "Montana will miss his contributions to our democracy and our way of life.”
His death was met with similar regret by Kay Rabil, who served with Fellows on the board of Missoula Community Access TV.
"Mike was a dedicated member of the MCAT board, and he will be greatly missed,” Rabil said. “His passion for our community was evident in everything he did. He was our friend."
Gov. Steve Bullock and running mate Mike Cooney in a statement thanked Fellows for his service and lauded his commitment to the Libertarian cause.
Secretary of State Linda McCulloch also offered her condolences. She said the Libertarian Party will have until 5 p.m. Monday to provide the name of a candidate to replace Fellows on upcoming general election ballots.
Fellows' House race opponents and others tweeted condolences Tuesday morning: