Austin Petersen

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Austin Petersen
Austin Petersen at 2016 FreedomFest cropped.jpg
Petersen in July 2016
Personal details
Born Austin Wade Petersen
(1981-02-19) February 19, 1981 (age 36)
Independence, Missouri, U.S.
Political party Libertarian
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.

Early life and education[edit]

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.[1][2]


Early work[edit]

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.[1]

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.[1][2] Petersen has also been a frequent guest on the RT program The Big Picture with Thom Hartmann.[citation needed]

2016 presidential campaign[edit]

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.[1][3][4] Writing in the Los Angeles Times, he was described by Reason editor Matt Welch as "an eager libertarian dudebro on the make".[5]

Petersen declared himself as the Bernie Sanders of the Libertarian Party due to his grassroots fundraising strategy.[6][7] After Ted Cruz terminated his campaign for the Republican Party's nomination for president, Petersen received the backing of Mary Matalin and Erick Erickson.[8][9] 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.[10] 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.[11][12][13]

Political positions[edit]

Petersen has voiced and published his rejection of the non-aggression principle, one of the foundation principles of the libertarian philosophy and party.[14][15][16][17] During his campaign he affirmed a pro-life stance, as well as an opposition to the War on Drugs.[6] 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).[18] He is a strong advocate of the Second Amendment and the right to freedom of association.

Current activities[edit]

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.[8][19][20] 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.[21]

Personal life[edit]

On social media and in interviews, Petersen has described himself as an atheist,[22][23] and as an agnostic.[24] 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:

Petersen resides in Kansas City, Missouri.[1][2]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e 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. 
  2. ^ a b c "Petersen at a glance:". Petersen for President. Retrieved August 7, 2016. 
  3. ^ Zeoli, Rich. "The Libertarian Candidate For President Wants Voters To Join A 'Generational Movement'". KYW-TV. Retrieved August 7, 2016. 
  4. ^ Rogers, Brooke (May 19, 2016). "Can Austin Petersen Unite Disenfranchsied Republicans?". National Review. Retrieved August 7, 2016. 
  5. ^ Welch, Matt. "Op-Ed Meet the libertarians — the #NeverTrump movement's last hope". Los Angeles Times. 
  6. ^ a b Watkins, Eli (June 22, 2016). "What is Libertarianism?". CNN. Retrieved August 7, 2016. 
  7. ^ 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. 
  8. ^ a b 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. 
  9. ^ Doherty, Brian (May 25, 2016). "Austin Petersen Catches More Endorsements from the Media Right for His Presidential Campaign". Retrieved September 12, 2016. 
  10. ^ Libertarian Party National Convention (Live Video). Orlando, Florida: C-SPAN. May 29, 2016. Event occurs at 03:12:00. Retrieved May 29, 2016. 
  11. ^ Chakraborty, Barnini. "Libertarian nominee accepts rival's gift of Washington replica pistol – then trashes it". Fox News. Retrieved June 3, 2016. 
  12. ^ 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. 
  13. ^ Weigel, David (August 7, 2016). "Is Libertarian Gary Johnson a factor in Clinton-Trump matchup?". Washington Post. Retrieved June 10, 2016. 
  14. ^ "The Austin Petersen NAP Debate Is A Dream, And It Will All Be Over Soon". December 31, 2015. 
  15. ^ "Austin Petersen's Case Against Libertarianism - Matthew Reece -". May 24, 2015. 
  16. ^ "6 Reasons Why the Non Aggression Principle is Stupid - The Libertarian Republic". September 29, 2015. 
  17. ^ Cook, Joshua (March 8, 2016). "Exclusive: LP Candidate Austin Petersen Responds to Colorado Debate Exclusion". 
  18. ^ "Libertarian Presidential Candidate Austin Petersen Redeems Himself on the 'Glenn Beck Program'". PJ Media. 25 May 2016. Retrieved 3 April 2017. 
  19. ^ Harper, Jennifer (March 31, 2016). "Libertarian hopefuls spar over Nazi-themed wedding cake on Fox Business Network presidential forum". Washington Times. Retrieved August 7, 2016. 
  20. ^ Libit, Daniel (April 14, 2016). "Where are all the Ron 'Paulite' libertarians in 2016?". CNBC. Retrieved August 7, 2016. 
  21. ^ "Petersen for Senate 2018: Only Principles Matter". The Libertarian Republic. January 12, 2017. Retrieved January 16, 2017. 
  22. ^ Doherty, Brian (May 11, 2016). "Austin Petersen, the Conservative's Libertarian Presidential Candidate?". Reason. Retrieved August 7, 2016. 
  23. ^ "Austin Petersen via The Libertarian Republic". Facebook. September 9, 2015. Retrieved August 18, 2016. 
  24. ^ 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. 
  25. ^ "Austin Petersen in studio on the Glenn Beck Show". YouTube. 2016. Retrieved 3 April 2017. 

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