Austin Wade Petersen (born February 19, 1981) is an American producer, writer, political activist, and commentator. He is currently running for a seat in the United States Senate from Missouri as a Republican. He was previously the runner-up for the Libertarian Party's nomination for President of the United States in 2016, finishing second place to former governor Gary Johnson with 21% of the vote.
On July 4, 2017, Petersen announced his candidacy for the Republican nomination for the United States Senate seat from Missouri in the 2018 election.
Early life and education
Petersen was raised on a farm in Peculiar, Missouri, the son of Donna and John D. Petersen. He attended Missouri State University, where he graduated with a degree in musical theater.
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 from 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 conservative advocacy group FreedomWorks. Petersen has also been a frequent guest on the RT program The Big Picture with Thom Hartmann.
As of 2018, 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.
2016 presidential campaign
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 called himself 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 criticized Johnson's vice presidential pick Bill Weld, in response to which Johnson placed the replica into a garbage can.
Petersen, thereafter, endorsed Johnson for president.
2018 Senate campaign
In late June 2017, Petersen filed an exploratory committee to consider running for the 2018 U.S. Senate election in Missouri. On July 4, 2017, Petersen formally announced his bid for the Republican nomination in the 2018 Missouri Senate race. 
In September 2017 Petersen was banned from Facebook during his senate campaign for giving away an AR-15 style rifle as a promotion and criticizing his Democratic opponent Claire McCaskill's positions on gun rights. The ban was lifted after Fox News and the New York Post reported that Facebook's COO Sheryl Sandberg had made max donations to McCaskill's campaign. The raffle drew renewed controversy in February 2018 when the school shooting in Parkland, Florida caused the Springfield News-Leader to investigate. KMOV in St. Louis scrutinized Petersen over his Second Amendment views in light of the shooting.
Petersen also reportedly received the national record for the largest Bitcoin donation in American campaign history.
Fox News reported in January 2018 that Petersen is one of two "potential general election challengers" in the election. In February, Fox News continued to place Petersen in its power rankings in Missouri's senate race.
Petersen officially filed with the Missouri Secretary of State for the US Senate seat as a Republican on February 28, 2018.
On March 6, Petersen announced a new AR-15 raffle on Facebook. His personal page was banned for 30 days less than two hours after the livestream was recorded.
- U.S. Representatives
- State legislators
- Glenn Beck, CEO of TheBlaze
- Ron Coleman, legal scholar and journalist
- Kassy Dillon, media contributor
- B. Wayne Hughes Jr., businessman and philanthropist
- Joshua Feuerstein,American evangelist, former pastor, internet personality
- Kash Jackson, Navy veteran and activist, Libertarian nominee for Governor of Illinois in 2018 
- Dana Loesch, conservative talk radio host and NRA spokesperson
- Ryan Moran, entrepreneur and founder of capitalism.com
- Mark Pellegrino, actor
- Gary Nolan, radio host, Libertarian candidate for President of the United States in 2000, 2004
- Dave Rubin, host of The Rubin Report
- Kurt Schlichter, conservative commentator and political columnist at Townhall
- Ben Shapiro, conservative commentator, editor-at-large of Daily Wire
- Chuck Woolery, actor and American game show host
- Thomas Woods, historian, author, and host of the Tom Woods Show
- Military Officals
- Rik Combs, retired U.S. Air Force officer and command pilot
- Rob Maness, retired United States Air Force colonel and candidate for the U.S. Senate in 2014, 2016
Petersen has voiced and published his rejection of the non-aggression principle. Petersen describes himself as a minarchist. During his presidential campaign, he maintained that he had a "consistent pro-life ethic," meaning he is both pro-life and anti-death penalty. He opposes the War on Drugs. He is a non-interventionist on most matters of foreign policy and applies a free-market capitalist approach to economics. Petersen advocates for an Ellis Island styled immigration policy with a strict disease check, strict security check, with no quotas. He has expressed he has no fear of open borders, but believes the problems of the welfare state must be addressed first. He is an advocate for the Second Amendment and the right to freedom of association.
On social media and in interviews, Petersen has described himself as an agnostic and an atheist. 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."
Petersen resides in Kansas City, Missouri.
- ^ Petersen, Austin (July 4, 2017). "Why I'm running as a Republican for U.S. Senate". The Kansas City Star. Retrieved July 4, 2017.
- ^ a b c d e f Montgomery, Rick (June 20, 2016). "Kansas Citian lost Libertarian Party race, but likely ran campaign of the future". Kansas City Star. Retrieved August 7, 2016.
- ^ a b c "Petersen at a glance:". austinpetersen2016.com. Petersen for President. Retrieved August 7, 2016.
- ^ "Thom Hartmann Explodes at Libertarian over Life-Saving Healthcare". YouTube. January 25, 2013. Retrieved July 30, 2017.
- ^ Zeoli, Rich. "The Libertarian Candidate For President Wants Voters To Join A 'Generational Movement'". KYW-TV. Retrieved August 7, 2016.
- ^ a b Rogers, Brooke (May 19, 2016). "Can Austin Petersen Unite Disenfranchsied Republicans?". National Review. Retrieved August 7, 2016.
- ^ Welch, Matt. "Op-Ed Meet the libertarians — the #NeverTrump movement's last hope". Los Angeles Times.
- ^ a b Watkins, Eli (June 22, 2016). "What is Libertarianism?". CNN. Retrieved August 7, 2016.
- ^ Welch, Matt (May 28, 2016). "Presidential Candidate Austin Petersen Says He's the "Bernie Sanders and Barack Obama" of the Libertarian Party". Reason. Retrieved August 7, 2016.
- ^ Nelson, Steven (May 4, 2016). "Libertarians Say 'Brave' Ted Cruz Should Endorse Them, Not Trump". U.S. News and World Report. Retrieved August 7, 2016.
- ^ Doherty, Brian (May 25, 2016). "Austin Petersen Catches More Endorsements from the Media Right for His Presidential Campaign". Reason.com. Retrieved September 12, 2016.
- ^ Libertarian Party National Convention (Live Video). Orlando, Florida: C-SPAN. May 29, 2016. Event occurs at 03:12:00. Retrieved May 29, 2016.
- ^ Chakraborty, Barnini. "Libertarian nominee accepts rival's gift of Washington replica pistol – then trashes it". Fox News. Retrieved June 3, 2016.
- ^ Chasmar, Jessica (June 2, 2016). "Gary Johnson tossed rival Austin Petersen's gift of George Washington's replica pistol in trash". Washington Times. Retrieved August 7, 2016.
- ^ Weigel, David (August 7, 2016). "Is Libertarian Gary Johnson a factor in Clinton-Trump matchup?". Washington Post. Retrieved June 10, 2016.
- ^ Bentley, Robert (June 29, 2017). "Austin Petersen Forms Exploratory Committee For U.S. Senate". The Libertarian Vindicator. Retrieved July 4, 2017.
- ^ Gillespie, Nick; Keyser, Ian (July 4, 2017). "Exclusive: Libertarian Activist Austin Peterson Is Running for U.S. Senate...as a Republican! [Reason Podcast]". Reason. Retrieved July 4, 2017.
- ^ "This U.S. Senate candidate accepts donations in bitcoin — and gives away AR-15 rifles".
- ^ http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2017/09/28/republican-senate-candidate-in-missouri-says-facebook-banned-him-over-ar-15-giveaway.html Fox
- ^ "GOP candidate banned from Facebook for trying to give away a gun". September 29, 2017.
- ^ "Republican Senate candidate says AR-15 raffle involved 'a lot of due diligence'".
- ^ Austin Petersen (February 16, 2018). "Petersen Under Scrutiny After "AR-15 Giveaway" Raffle" – via YouTube.
- ^ Fenske, Sarah. "Missouri Candidate Garners Largest Bitcoin Donation in U.S. History".
- ^ Stirewalt, Chris (January 5, 2018). "Presenting your 2018 Senate power rankings".
- ^ "Power Rankings: New recruits, new ratings". 590kid.com.
- ^ writer, SUE STERLING Staff. "Candidates file for state, federal offices".
- ^ GOP Senate Candidate Gets 30 Day Facebook Ban For The Stupidest Reason The Daily Wire
- ^ "Former Congressman Bob Barr Endorses Austin Petersen". Austin Petersen for US Senate. July 11, 2017. Retrieved July 11, 2017.
- ^ "Joe Walsh on Twitter". Twitter. September 2017. Retrieved September 27, 2017.
- ^ "Sen. Eric Brakey on Twitter". Twitter. July 4, 2017. Retrieved July 4, 2017.
- ^ "A Conservative/Libertarian Alliance? Austin Petersen on Glenn Beck", YouTube, February 27, 2018, retrieved February 27, 2018
- ^ "Ron Coleman on Twitter". Twitter. July 5, 2017. Retrieved July 5, 2017.
- ^ "Kassy Dillon". www.facebook.com.
- ^ "B. Wayne Hughes Jr. on Twitter". Twitter. July 6, 2017. Retrieved July 7, 2017.
- ^ "Joshua Feuerstein". www.facebook.com.
- ^ "Kash Jackson for Gov on Twitter".
- ^ Stritzel, Chris (September 4, 2017). "Election 2018: Endorsing Austin Petersen for Senate". Building St. Louis.
- ^ "PROUD TO SUPPORT AUSTIN PETERSEN FOR SENATE". Capitalism.com. July 27, 2017. Retrieved July 27, 2017.
- ^ "Mark Pellegrino Endorses Austin Petersen for Senate". Austin Petersen for US Senate. July 20, 2017. Retrieved July 20, 2017.
- ^ "LIVE: Gary Nolan Endorses Austin Petersen for US Senate". YouTube. January 8, 2017. Retrieved January 8, 2018.
- ^ "Dave Rubin Endorses Austin". Austin Petersen for US Senate. July 19, 2017. Retrieved July 21, 2017.
- ^ "Kurt Schlichter on Twitter". Twitter. September 2, 2017. Retrieved September 2, 2017.
- ^ Ben Shapiro [@benshapiro] (August 29, 2017). "Good piece by @AP4Liberty -- happy to help however I can" (Tweet). Retrieved September 6, 2017 – via Twitter.
- ^ "LIVE: Ben Shapiro with Austin Petersen Exclusive". YouTube. September 6, 2017. Retrieved September 6, 2017.
- ^ "Guided by the Constitution – an Interview with Austin Petersen – Episode 302 - Blunt Force Truth". February 5, 2018.
- ^ "Tom Woods on Twitter". Twitter. July 6, 2017. Retrieved August 8, 2017.
- ^ "Austin Petersen on Twitter".
- ^ "Republican Liberty Caucus Endorses Austin Petersen for US Senate in Missouri". RLC.org. Retrieved January 30, 2018.
- ^ "Building St. Louis on Twitter". Twitter. September 4, 2017. Retrieved September 5, 2017.
- ^ "The Austin Petersen NAP Debate Is A Dream, And It Will All Be Over Soon". December 31, 2015.
- ^ "Austin Petersen's Case Against Libertarianism - Matthew Reece - Liberty.me". May 24, 2015.
- ^ "6 Reasons Why the Non Aggression Principle is Stupid - The Libertarian Republic". September 29, 2015.
- ^ Cook, Joshua (March 8, 2016). "Exclusive: LP Candidate Austin Petersen Responds to Colorado Debate Exclusion".
- ^ "Which Of These 11 Types Of Libertarian Are You?". Apr 25, 2017.
- ^ https://alibertarianfuture.com/famous-libertarians/interviews/austin-petersen-constitutional-war-plan-for-isis-reasonable-budget-proposal/
- ^ "Libertarian Presidential Candidate Austin Petersen Redeems Himself on the 'Glenn Beck Program'". PJ Media. May 25, 2016. Retrieved April 3, 2017.
- ^ Doherty, Brian (May 11, 2016). "Austin Petersen, the Conservative's Libertarian Presidential Candidate?". Reason. Retrieved August 7, 2016.
- ^ "Austin Petersen via The Libertarian Republic". Facebook. September 9, 2015. Retrieved August 18, 2016.
- ^ Petersen, Austin (May 8, 2016). "Sure. It's a distinction, but the intellectually honest answer is agnostic. Technically everyone is an atheist in some way". Twitter. Retrieved August 18, 2016.
- ^ Austin Petersen in studio on the Glenn Beck Show. YouTube. 2016. Event occurs at 24:16. Retrieved April 3, 2017.