It happened at mile marker 16 on Highway 200.
He was coming back from a campaign event in Seeley Lake, as he was the Libertarian candidate for our sole U.S. House seat.
I’m sure we’ll hear a lot of condolences today, especially from Zinke and Juneau, Fellows’ two opponents in the race.
I was quite shocked to hear this news.
I’ve never met Mike Fellows but I’ve seen him several times.
There’s a video of him from October 2015 when he was talking about all the tax increases and bond measures in Missoula.
That video is classic Mike Fellows – talking about the issues he cares about (in this case school funding) and not backing down.
There’s the long beard tinged with white, the proud display of the American flag via his clothing, and of course that raspy voice.
We won’t be hearing that raspy voice anymore, as we have over the course of many Montana debates.
Here’s Fellows in the 2014 U.S. House debate.
About 3 minutes into it he’s talking about an issue he cared deeply about, our nation’s sky-rocketing national debt.
I remember seeing Fellows down at the Missoula City Council when they were talking about increased gun control measures.
Fellows was there will his homemade sign and his 2nd Amendment t-shirt, sitting right up past the front row and leaning against the councilors’ table.
At one point he was told to move back, and also to not display his sign so prominently. He had no problem doing so.
When it was his time to get up to talk he did so in that raspy and gravelly-voiced way of his, ticking off his points, putting in a few excruciatingly long pauses, but getting to the heart of the matter as he saw it and in a way that sought to convince others to come over to his way of thinking as well.
Mike Fellows clearly cared about the issues – you don’t run for the U.S. House in 2016, 2014, 2010, 2008, 2006, 2004, 2002 and 1998 if you don’t.
Besides running for Congress 8 times he also ran for Montana Secretary of State in 2000, the Montana House of Representatives in 1998, and for a local government study in Missoula in 1994.
He’d gotten started with Montana politics as far back as 1980, volunteering on Ed Clark’s campaign.
While I have no idea who Ed Clark was, I’m sure Fellows believed in him just as much as he believed in what he was talking about last night to voters, hoping to convince them to his way of seeing things.
The leader of the Libertarian Party in Montana is gone.
I don’t know what they’ll do, but it’ll be hard to replace someone with as much heart and courage as Mike Fellows had.