Montana state senator dies unexpectedly at 62

The Billings Gazette reports that Montana state senator Mark Sweeney (D) died unexpectedly on Friday. He was 62-years-old. 

Sweeney’s death was announced by his family on Saturday morning. The family said that Sweeney had died on Friday night at home. But, a cause of death was not provided.

Sweeney had been campaigning just the day before his death. He was one of 11 candidates running to represent Montana’s eastern district in the U.S. House of Representatives. Absentee ballots were just about to be mailed.

Sweeney had been in Montana’s congress since 2018 when he was elected to the state’s house. He had been in the state senate since 2020.

The family’s statement

On Saturday morning, Sweeney’s family released a statement announcing Sweeney’s passing.

The statement begins:

Today, our hearts ache as we are informing family and friends of the tragic passing of Mark Sweeney, a beloved father, husband, and public servant to the people of Montana. While our sadness and despair weigh on all of us, our spirits remain as bright as the twinkle in Mark’s eye with our love for him. Whether he be hunting, fishing, skiing or working on a farm or ranch, we will always treasure the enduring optimism, hope and love Mark brought to all of our lives and the people around him.

The family went on to call for privacy as they “mourn and celebrate” Sweeney’s life.

“To our extended family and our so many friends throughout Montana and around the world, please understand that Mark left us with love, humor, and resilient passion to help other people,” the family wrote. “It is with great sadness and with immense respect, love, and admiration for Mark Sweeney that we now live without him. We appreciate the privacy that people will extend to our family as we both mourn and celebrate the life of Mark Sweeney.”

“Shocked and saddened”

Both Democratic and Republican members of Montana’s Congress issued statements following the news of Sweeney’s passing.

Republican Mark Blasdel, the president of Montana’s state senate, said, “I am shocked and saddened to hear that Sen. Sweeney has passed. He was a dedicated public servant and was respected by Montanans on both sides of the political aisle.”

The Montana Senate Democratic Caucus similarly said that it is “heartbroken at the news of Senator Mark Sweeney’s recent passing.” The caucus also called to mind Sweeney’s “tireless” advocacy for the people of Montana.

Sweeney is survived by his wife, Sue, his adult children, Shannon and Jordan Sweeney, his two stepdaughters, Carly and Brandi Johnson, and his two grandchildren.

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