Petersen at the Young Americans for Liberty National Convention, July 2017
|Born||Austin Wade Petersen
February 19, 1981
Independence, Missouri, U.S.
|Political party||Republican (2017–present)|
|Libertarian (before 2017)|
|Residence||Kansas City, Missouri, U.S.|
|Alma mater||Missouri State University|
|Occupation||Political activist, writer, publisher|
Austin Wade Petersen (born February 19, 1981) is an American producer, writer, political activist, and commentator. He was 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.
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 libertarian advocacy group FreedomWorks. Petersen has also been a frequent guest on the RT program The Big Picture with Thom Hartmann.
As of 2017, 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.
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 immediately began to criticize Johnson for his vice presidential pick William Weld, in response to which Johnson placed the replica into a garbage can. Petersen, thereafter, endorsed Johnson for president.
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 announced his bid to run as a Republican in the 2018 Missouri Senate race.
Petersen has voiced and published his rejection of the non-aggression principle. 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. In the past, Petersen has expressed regard for the concept of open borders (while being against the welfare state). 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."
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