Petersen in July 2016
|Born||Austin Wade Petersen
February 19, 1981
Independence, Missouri, U.S.
|Residence||Kansas City, Missouri|
|Alma mater||Missouri State University|
|Occupation||CEO of Stonegait LLC; publisher at The Libertarian Republic|
|Known for||Former 2016 Libertarian Party presidential candidate|
Austin Wade Petersen (born February 19, 1981) is an American producer, writer, political activist and commentator. He is best known as the runner-up for the Libertarian Party's nomination for President of the United States in 2016, losing to former governor Gary Johnson on a second ballot with 21.8% of the vote.
In Little League baseball which Petersen played from 2001 to 2004 (in his 20s), Petersen never got a hit and only reached base 5 times via intentional walks despite being almost 10 years older than the opposing players.
Petersen's early career included stints as a model and as a product demonstrator at FAO Schwarz; at the latter position, he briefly appeared during a Late Night with Conan O'Brien sketch filmed at the store.
In 2008 Petersen worked for the Libertarian National Committee and the Atlas Network, assisting on the 2008 and 2012 presidential bids of former U.S. Representative of Texas, Ron Paul. He was an associate producer at the Fox Business program Freedom Watch with Judge Napolitano, which aired from 2010-2012, and later went to work as director of production at the libertarian advocacy group FreedomWorks. Petersen has also been a frequent guest on the RT program The Big Picture with Thom Hartmann.
By 2015, Petersen was living in Kansas City, Missouri "behind a midtown QuikTrip" when he announced his candidacy in the 2016 Libertarian Party nominating convention for President of the United States. Writing in the Los Angeles Times, he was described by Reason editor Matt Welch as "an eager libertarian dudebro on the make".
Petersen declared himself as the Bernie Sanders of the Libertarian Party due to his grassroots fundraising strategy. After Ted Cruz terminated his campaign for the Republican Party's nomination for president, Petersen received the backing of Mary Matalin and Erick Erickson. In many polls, he placed in the top three presidential choices for his party, along with opponents John McAfee and Gary Johnson. On May 29, 2016 at the Libertarian National Convention, Petersen lost the nomination to Johnson, getting second place on the second ballot. Petersen congratulated Johnson on the win and gave him a replica of George Washington's pistol. Petersen then refused to endorse Johnson's vice presidential pick William Weld, in response to which Johnson placed the replica into a garbage can. Petersen, thereafter, endorsed Johnson for president.
Petersen has voiced and published his rejection of the non-aggression principle, one of the foundation principles of the libertarian philosophy and party. During his campaign he affirmed a pro-life stance, as well as an opposition to the War on Drugs. He is a non-interventionist on most matters of foreign policy and applies a free-market capitalist approach to economics. In the past Petersen has stated that he is philosophically for open borders (while being against the welfare state). He is a strong advocate of the Second Amendment and the right to freedom of association. Petersen is against Missouri being listed as a Midwestern State as he feels Missouri is a Northeastern State due to its past.
As of 2016, Petersen is the owner and CEO of a photo and video consulting firm called Stonegait LLC, and is the founder of The Libertarian Republic and Liberty Viral, both libertarian news and commentary websites. In January 2017, Petersen announced he is considering running for the United States Senate in the 2018 Missouri election, in either the Republican or Libertarian Party.
On social media and in interviews, Petersen has described himself as an atheist, and as an agnostic. He grew up as a Christian, though in a 2016 interview with Glenn Beck, Petersen spoke about how the death of his mother changed his religious views:
|“||When I was a young man, my mother died; and she was victimized by a pharmacist who diluted her chemotherapy drugs. I lost my faith and I never went back.||”|