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HELENA - State Sen. Mike Cooney, D-Helena, is expected to be named Tuesday as interim director of the Montana Historical Society, sources said Monday night.

Cooney, 56, would replace Richard Sims, who recently resigned as Historical Society director on Sept. 29.

The society's board of trustees recently approached Hugh Ambrose, a Helena author and son of the late historian Stephen Ambrose, for the job, but he had just taken another job.

Cooney could not be reached for comment Monday night.

He currently is administrator of the Workforce Services Division at the state Department of Labor and Industry.

His term as a state senator expires in early January.

Cooney has served in the Senate since 2003 and was elected as its president during the 2007 Legislature. He was elected three times as Montana's secretary of state, serving from 1989-2001, and was a state legislator from Butte from 1977-1981. He is a former aide to U.S. Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont.

The Historical Society is trying to raise $30 million in private funds to build a new museum in what is now a parking lot across the street and north of the current building. Plans call for connecting the two buildings by an underground tunnel.

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