Libertarian Party

Montana Libertarian Party Chair and Congressional Candidate Mike Fellows Dies in a Car Crash at Age 59 (UPDATED)

Longtime activist and "godfather of third-party politics" had run in every Montana election for 20 years

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Mike Fellows, RIP. ||| Mike Fellows
Mike Fellows

People who like to criticize the Libertarian Party during presidential years often say something to the effect of, "Why don't Libertarians spend their time and energy running for Congress, or state and local office?" In other words, do stuff like Mike Fellows had been doing for decades until his untimely death Monday night in a head-on car crash on Highway 200 coming home to Missoula after a campaign event in Seeley Lake. Fellows, 59, who had been running as the Libertarian candidate to unseat Rep. Ryan Zinke (R-Mont.), was pronounced dead on the scene.

Fellows was the chair of the Montana Libertarian Party, and a board member of the Libertarian National Committee. Billings Libertarian Andrew Forcier described him in the Bozeman Daily Chronicle as the "godfather of third-party politics" in Montana. According to The Missoulian, Fellows ran 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."

"Mike has been working tirelessly for decades to advance the party as a candidate and as chairman, often on his own dime," Andrew Forcier, Libertarian candidate for the Montana House of Representatives, told the Daily Chronicle. "He was a dedicated individual… he laid the groundwork for many of the third-party candidates that are running today."

Fellows' major-party competitors in the congressional election also expressed sadness at his death. "My sincerest condolences to the Fellows family, his friends, and followers," Rep. Zinke said in a statement. "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." Democratic candidate Denis Juneau added, "I'm shocked and saddened to hear about the passing of Mike Fellows. 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."

The Missoulian has collected other reactions to his passing.

UPDATE: Libertarian National Chair Nicholas Sarwark said in a statement:

Mike had the distinction of being the longest serving state chair in theLibertarian Party, having served for over 25 years in that role. He also ran for office in almost every election during those last 25 years, which shows his commitment to the party and to giving his fellow Montanans a Libertarian to vote for instead of an old party candidate to vote against.

I've known Mike since my first national convention in 2000 in Anaheim and have valued his advice and experience when I was state chair in Maryland, vice chair in Colorado, and as national chair.

His dedication to the Libertarian Party served as a personal inspiration to me and so many other party members.

More details and memories from NBC Montana, the Missoula Independent, and Montana Public Radio.

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  1. “Dies in car crash”… with perfectly severed brake lines?

    1. I watched the nomination convention streaming online and with Dr. Marc Allan Feldman this is the second guy from the convention to die. :[

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    2. The important question is: where was Hillary during this car “accident”?

      1. More relevant – where was McAfee?

  2. People who like to criticize the Libertarian Party during presidential years often say something to the effect of, “Why don’t Libertarians spend their time and energy running for Congress, or state and local office?”

    At least part of the reason is that it is too hard to get on the ballot.

    This may be the biggest blessing of the Johnson run this year. For my state, a 2% showing by the Presidential candidate guarantees* ballot access for the next 4 years for every race, including President.

    *actually, 2 signatures will still be required. Literally, you need someone to second your nomination.

    1. I’m not sure why libertarians don’t just run as Democrats or Republicans, but remain libertarian. I know the quick answer is “but then you won’t get party support”. Now, I don’t know how much “party support” the libertarian candidate gets from the L party, but he/she isn’t currently getting ANY support from the D or R party, so presuming the answer to the first question is “very little” the end result is largely the same.

      1. A good many do run as Republicans. A libertarian can’t really hope to accomplish anything running as a Democrat, as the party is utterly hostile to the very concept of limited government.

        1. At least 3 Free Staters in NH have been elected as democrats.

          There are certainly reasons why NH might not be the best choice for the free state, but the relative ease of getting elected to the House is a strong argument for it.

          1. Fair enough. I’d still suggest that NH probably doesn’t reflect the views of the national Democratic party.

            1. Not only NH, but from time to time other districts here & there. Politics is local & temporary. Sometimes it’s just a living room full of people.

              Not only that, but in many places the partisan breakdown on local matters isn’t what you’d expect, or is entirely unpredictable, as in, “There’s no Democratic or Republican way to clean the streets.” And the great majority of political questions on the agenda have nothing to do with the degree to which gov’t is limited. Most voters don’t care about your abstract concept or individual liberty; they want to know whether you think the bus stop should be on 1st St. or 2nd St. If you give them the answer they like, especially if you demonstrate your capabilities or experience regarding buses & their stops, they’ll vote for you regardless of whether you’re a radical libertarian, a monarchist, a communazi, or a Silly.

      2. A good number of Free Stater types in NH have done just that and been elected to the House.

      3. Paul, Amash, Massie.

        it is being done.

  3. That sucks moose balls.
    Rip.

  4. I knew Mike and worked him him many times. This saddens me greatly.
    He was the consummate Libertarian, and an excellent guy.

    Damnit.

  5. What did he know about Hillary Clinton?

  6. Was his photo the inspiration for the sloths in Zootopia?

  7. RIP, Mr. Fellows. Thanks for everything. Condolences to the Fellows family, and the Montana LP.

  8. His hair was Soavealous.

    RIP, good sir.

  9. So, Robby on PM linx duty again, or entire Reason staff in mourning?

  10. Has Montana Libertarian Stan Jones responded to the news? I bet he’s feeling blue…

  11. Highway 200 claims another though it’s worse come winter. Almost got me about ’83. RIP Mike.

    1. I’ve never been there, but Google Maps shows a long twisty stretch in a canyon between Lincoln & Ovando. Is that the danger area?

      I note the remarks by his competition for the office. This is where nothing matters about political disagreements, because they all realize the same could happen to any of them, Republican, Democratic, Libertarian, or otherwise, and nothing about the side you take is going to matter then.

      And in the long run the Earth becomes an ice ball in the dark anyway.

  12. People who like to criticize the Libertarian Party during presidential years often say something to the effect of, “Why don’t Libertarians spend their time and energy running for Congress, or state and local office?”

    When I first encountered the Libertarian Party back in the 70’s they proudly advertised their third party status by pointing out that there were many Libertarians holding minor offices across the country. Unlike some “Third Parties” whose sole interest is in the Presidential race, they were down in the trenches at the grassroots level.

    It’s too bad that they dropped that emphasis as there is more to liberty than one office.

    … Hobbit

    1. What makes you say it’s too bad they dropped that emphasis? What evidence do you see that they accomplished more w that emphasis than w/o it?

      1. I’m not a hard-core Libertarian, it’s simply something that I noticed over the years. The LP advertising used to be about how many lower-level positions were filled thus being a true third party. I simply don’t see that mentioned any more.

        Change comes from within. For example, if Ron Paul were to win the presidency he would still have to face an antagonistic Congress. If that Congress held more LP members it would be much less friendly. Those Representatives would have to come from liberty-positive state level pols. And so on.

        … Hobbit

  13. Did anyone see Hillary in MT recently?

    1. We drove our kids to Montana to see my mom in a rental car with California plates. I recall one look that would freeze nitrogen. I would guess that there are progressive places in MT but Thompson Falls is not one of them.

      … Hobbit

  14. Goddammit. Seems our state only makes the news when bad shit happens.

    RIP, Mike Fellows.

    1. That’s the general rule when Libertarians are involved, especially when they’re male strippers, murder suspects, or blue (skin color).

  15. Start working at home with Google! It’s by-far the best job I’ve had. Last Wednesday I got a brand new BMW since getting a check for $6474 this – 4 weeks past. I began this 8-months ago and immediately was bringing home at least $77 per hour. I work through this link, go to tech tab for work detail,,,,,,,
    ——————>>> http://www.highpay90.com

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