HELENA — Montana State Senator and congressional candidate Mark Sweeney died Friday evening at his home in Philipsburg, according to a statement from his family.
Sweeney, 62, was a sitting state senator representing Philipsburg. At the time of his death, Sweeney was one of three Democratic candidates running in the primary for Montana’s new eastern congressional district. A representative of his family said Sweeney died of natural causes.
Sweeney’s family said he was a “beloved father, husband and public servant to the people of Montana."
Elections offices are expected to mail primary ballots to voters this week. Sweeney’s name will likely remain on the ballot as election officials finalized the list of candidate names about a month ago.
Sweeney was born in Butte but moved to Miles City with his family as an infant, graduated from high school there, and attended Miles Community College and Western Montana College. He earned a degree in natural-resource management. He spent most of his career as a fisheries expert with the state Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks, working in Glendive, Libby and Anaconda.
The family asked for privacy while they mourn and celebrate Sweeney.
Republicans and Democrats in Montana have been posting reactions to Sweeney's death on social media:
Sharla and I are deeply saddened to hear of Mark Sweeney’s passing, and we send our condolences to his family.— Senator Jon Tester (@SenatorTester) May 7, 2022
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. He will be missed.
A dedicated husband, father, and public servant, Representative Mark Sweeney always put Montana first.— Governor Greg Gianforte (@GovGianforte) May 7, 2022
Susan and I are praying for his wife Sue, their two daughters, and his family and loved ones.
Statement from Senate President Mark Blasdel on the passing of Sen. Mark Sweeney:— Montana Senate GOP (@MTSenateGOP) May 7, 2022
"I am shocked and saddened to hear that Senator Sweeney has passed. He was a dedicated public servant and was respected by Montanans on both sides of the political aisle." #mtleg #mtpol
So saddened to hear of the loss of Sen. Mark Sweeney. He dedicated his life to serving Montana and will be sorely missed. Sending love and healing to his family and community.— Cora Neumann (@CoraforMT) May 7, 2022
I’m absolutely devastated to hear of the passing of Mark Sweeney.— Wilmot Collins (@CollinsWilmot) May 7, 2022
Mark was the epitome of everything good about Montana. Maddie and I are sending prayers and well wishes to his family and loved ones.
Montana lost a good one. Mark was a selfless public servant, an avid fan of Montana and all her glory, a great husband and dad, and the best cousin a guy could ask for. pic.twitter.com/xHN1E5jZFJ— Mike Cooney (@CooneyforMT) May 7, 2022
We lost a true Montanan today. Our thoughts are with those who know & love Mark Sweeney - legislator, father, friend. He was that rare person to bring earnestness & humor to public service. And he was a man so, so proud of his family.— Tom Winter (@WinterForMT) May 7, 2022
Montana’s a better place for his part in it
I have been off the grid since early morning, and just learned this. Mark was a Montanan, an optimist, a husband and father, a person that believed we all had much to contribute, and more in common than what separates us. My love and prayers go to Sue and the family. pic.twitter.com/VSjxLT7bS0— Steve Bullock (@GovernorBullock) May 7, 2022