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Montana state senator, congressional candidate Mark Sweeney dies

mark sweeney legislative portrait.png
Montana Legislature
Mark Sweeney

Democratic state senator and congressional candidate Mark Sweeney has died.

Sweeney’s family announced his death early Saturday, calling him a “beloved father, husband and public servant to the people of Montana.” He was 62.

Sweeney was in his first term as a state senator representing District 39 in Philipsburg. Before being elected to the Senate in 2020, he had served as a state representative, and had previously run unsuccessfully for the state Public Service Commission.

Before entering politics, Sweeney worked for the Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks, and owned a real estate brokerage.

The Montana Senate Democrats said in a statement Saturday that Sweeney was a “tireless advocate not only for his constituents, but for working people across our state.

“His good humor and friendly smile will be missed by his many friends on both sides of the aisle.”

U.S. Sen. Jon Tester said in a statement posted to social media that he was “deeply saddened” to learn of Sweeney’s death.

“Mark was a Montanan through and through, setting politics aside to work towards bettering the lives of everyone who called the Last Best Place home,” Tester wrote.

Sweeney was one of three candidates running for the Democratic nomination in Montana’s 2nd Congressional District covering the eastern part of the state. Penny Ronning and Skylar Williams are also running in next month’s primary.

In a statement, Ronning said Sweeney was “supportive, friendly and tough” as both a colleague and competitor.

“He challenged all of us to care in greater ways about our state and our country,” she wrote.

Williams said on Twitter that although he didn’t know Sweeney for very long, “the interactions I did have with him were full of jokes and laughter.

“He has done Montana proud and I am glad I got to meet him at all.”

Ballots for the June 7 primary will be mailed out on Friday.

Nadya joined Yellowstone Public Radio as news director in October 2021. Before coming to YPR, she spent six years as digital news editor/reporter for the NPR affiliate in Wichita, Kansas, where her work earned several Kansas Association of Broadcasters awards and a regional Edward R. Murrow award for Excellence in Social Media. Originally from Texas, Nadya has lived and worked in Colorado, Illinois, Washington, D.C.; and North Dakota. She lives in Billings with her cat, Dragon, and dog, Trooper, and enjoys hiking, crocheting, and traveling as often as possible.