Austin Petersen

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Austin Petersen
Austin Petersen by Gage Skidmore 2.jpg
Petersen speaking at the 2018 Young Americans for Liberty St. Louis Spring Summit
Austin Wade Petersen

(1981-02-19) February 19, 1981 (age 41)
Alma materSouthwest Missouri State University
OccupationPolitical activist, radio show host, writer, publisher, political commentator, film and television producer
Political partyRepublican (2017–present)
Libertarian (before 2017)

Austin Wade Petersen (born February 19, 1981) is an American writer, political activist, commentator, and broadcaster. He is currently the host of the Austin Petersen show on Real Talk Radio Network in the St Louis region. He's also the host of the Wake Up America show daily newscast. He was the runner-up for the Libertarian Party's nomination for President of the United States in 2016,[1] finishing second place to Gary Johnson with 21.9% of the vote.[2][3]

On August 7, 2018, he finished third in the U.S. Senate Republican primary in Missouri with 8.3% of the vote, behind winner Josh Hawley and runner-up Tony Monetti.[4]

Early life and education[edit]

Petersen was raised on a farm in Peculiar, Missouri, the son of Donna and John D. Petersen. He attended Southwest Missouri State University, where he graduated with a degree in musical theater.[5][6]


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.[5]

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.[5] He was an associate producer at the Fox Business program Freedom Watch with Judge Napolitano, which aired from 2010 to 2012, and later went to work as director of production at the conservative advocacy group FreedomWorks.[5][6] Petersen has also been a frequent guest on the RT program The Big Picture with Thom Hartmann.[7]

Petersen served as an executive producer of the 2014 film Alongside Night, an adaptation of the novel of the same name which promoted agorism, an anarcho-capitalist political philosophy. Several prominent Libertarian figures, like Ron Paul and Adam Kokesh, appeared in the film.

Post 2016-activities[edit]

As of 2018, Petersen was the owner and CEO of a photo and video consulting firm called Stonegait LLC[citation needed] and is the founder of The Libertarian Republic and Liberty Viral – both libertarian news and commentary websites.[citation needed] He ran for the United States Senate as a Republican in 2018, but was defeated in the primary by Missouri's Attorney General Josh Hawley.[8] In 2019, Austin Petersen took over as the host of the KWOS Morning Show on Jefferson City, Missouri and has been broadcasting ever since.

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.[5][9][10] Writing in the Los Angeles Times, he was described by Reason editor Matt Welch as "an eager libertarian dudebro on the make".[11]

Petersen called himself the Bernie Sanders of the Libertarian Party due to his grassroots fundraising strategy.[12][13] After Ted Cruz terminated his campaign for the Republican Party's nomination for president, Petersen received the backing of Mary Matalin and Erick Erickson.[14][15] 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.[16] 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.[17][18]

Petersen, thereafter, endorsed Johnson for president.[19]

2018 Senate campaign[edit]

Campaign logo

In late June 2017, Petersen filed an exploratory committee to consider running for the U.S. Senate seat in Missouri.[20] On July 4, 2017, Petersen formally announced his bid for the Republican nomination in the 2018 Missouri Senate race.[21]

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.[22] The ban was lifted after Fox News[23] and the New York Post[24] 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.[25] KMOV in St. Louis scrutinized Petersen over his views on gun control in light of the shooting.[26]

Petersen also reportedly received the national record for the largest Bitcoin donation in American campaign history.[27] Fox News reported in January 2018 that Petersen was one of two "potential general election challengers" in the election.[28]

Petersen officially filed with the Missouri Secretary of State for the US Senate seat as a Republican on February 28, 2018.[29]

On March 6, Petersen announced a new AR-15 raffle on Facebook. His personal page was banned after the livestream was recorded.[23] In July he announced a raffle for a machine, similar to a 3-D printer, that can produce "untraceable gun parts". His campaign said 3-D printing technology has been described as the "end of gun control".[30]

In the runup to the Republican primary election in August, President Donald Trump endorsed Petersen's rival Josh Hawley and campaigned for him. Petersen complained bitterly about Trump's involvement in the primary.[31] In the August 7 primary Petersen came in third with 8.3% of the vote.[32]

Political positions[edit]

Petersen has voiced and published his rejection of the non-aggression principle.[34][35][36][37] Petersen describes himself as a minarchist.[38] During his presidential campaign, he maintained that he had a "consistent pro-life ethic," meaning he is both pro-life and anti-death penalty.[10] He opposes the War on Drugs.[12] He is a non-interventionist on most matters of foreign policy[39] and applies a free-market capitalist approach to economics.

Personal life[edit]

On social media and in interviews, Petersen has described himself variously as an agnostic and an atheist.[40][41][42] 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."[43]

Petersen resides in Jefferson City, Missouri.[5][6]

Petersen was married to Stephanie Renee Cole on October 23, 2021.[44]

Electoral history[edit]

Republican primary results, Missouri 2018[45]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Josh Hawley 389,878 58.6%
Republican Tony Monetti 64,834 9.8%
Republican Austin Petersen 54,916 8.3%
Republican Kristi Nichols 49,640 7.5%
Republican Christina Smith 35,024 5.3%
Republican Ken Patterson 19,579 3.0%
Republican Peter Pfeifer 16,594 2.5%
Republican Courtland Sykes 13,870 2.1%
Republican Fred Ryman 8,781 1.3%
Republican Brian Hagg 6,871 1.0%
Republican Bradley Krembs 4,902 0.7%
Total votes 664,889 100%


See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Austin Petersen". Ballotpedia. Retrieved September 16, 2018.
  2. ^ Weigel, David. "Six candidates vie for Libertarian presidential nomination". The Washington Post. Retrieved September 16, 2018.
  3. ^ "2016 | Libertarian Party". Libertarian Party. Retrieved September 16, 2018.
  4. ^ Welch, Matt (August 8, 2018). "Austin Petersen Trounced in Missouri GOP Primary Election for U.S. Senate". Retrieved September 16, 2018.
  5. ^ 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.
  6. ^ a b c "Petersen at a glance". Petersen for President. Archived from the original on August 8, 2016. Retrieved August 7, 2016.
  7. ^ "Thom Hartmann Explodes at Libertarian over Life-Saving Healthcare". YouTube. January 25, 2013. Retrieved July 30, 2017.
  8. ^ Atkinson, Khorri (August 8, 2018). "Josh Hawley wins GOP Senate primary in Missouri". Axios. Retrieved March 5, 2020.
  9. ^ Zeoli, Rich (April 28, 2016). "The Libertarian Candidate For President Wants Voters To Join A 'Generational Movement'". KYW-TV. Retrieved August 7, 2016.
  10. ^ a b Rogers, Brooke (May 19, 2016). "Can Austin Petersen Unite Disenfranchsied Republicans?". National Review. Retrieved August 7, 2016.
  11. ^ Welch, Matt (May 19, 2016). "Op-Ed Meet the libertarians – the #NeverTrump movement's last hope". Los Angeles Times.
  12. ^ a b Watkins, Eli (June 22, 2016). "What is Libertarianism?". CNN. Retrieved August 7, 2016.
  13. ^ 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.
  14. ^ Nelson, Steven (May 4, 2016). "Libertarians Say 'Brave' Ted Cruz Should Endorse Them, Not Trump". U.S. News & World Report. Retrieved August 7, 2016.
  15. ^ Doherty, Brian (May 25, 2016). "Austin Petersen Catches More Endorsements from the Media Right for His Presidential Campaign". Retrieved September 12, 2016.
  16. ^ Libertarian Party National Convention (Live Video). Orlando, Florida: C-SPAN. May 29, 2016. Event occurs at 03:12:00. Retrieved May 29, 2016.
  17. ^ Chakraborty, Barnini (June 1, 2016). "Libertarian nominee accepts rival's gift of Washington replica pistol – then trashes it". Fox News. Retrieved June 3, 2016.
  18. ^ Chasmar, Jessica (June 2, 2016). "Gary Johnson tossed rival Austin Petersen's gift of George Washington's replica pistol in trash". The Washington Times. Retrieved August 7, 2016.
  19. ^ Weigel, David (August 7, 2016). "Is Libertarian Gary Johnson a factor in Clinton-Trump matchup?". The Washington Post. Retrieved June 10, 2016.
  20. ^ Bentley, Robert (June 29, 2017). "Austin Petersen Forms Exploratory Committee For U.S. Senate". The Libertarian Vindicator. Retrieved July 4, 2017.
  21. ^ Gillespie, Nick; Keyser, Ian (July 4, 2017). "Exclusive: Libertarian Activist Austin Peterson Is Running for U.S. a Republican! [Reason Podcast]". Reason. Retrieved July 4, 2017.
  22. ^ Wise, Lindsay (September 25, 2017). "This U.S. Senate candidate accepts donations in bitcoin – and gives away AR-15 rifles". McClatchy DC.
  23. ^ a b Pappas, Alex (September 28, 2017). "Republican Senate candidate in Missouri says Facebook banned him over AR-15 giveaway". Fox News. Retrieved October 26, 2021.
  24. ^ Pappas, Alex (September 29, 2017). "GOP candidate banned from Facebook for trying to give away a gun". New York Post.
  25. ^ Schmidt, Will (February 16, 2018). "Republican Senate candidate says AR-15 raffle involved 'a lot of due diligence'". Springfield News-Leader.
  26. ^ Austin Petersen (February 16, 2018). "Petersen Under Scrutiny After "AR-15 Giveaway" Raffle". KMOV St. Louis – via YouTube.
  27. ^ Fenske, Sarah. "Missouri Candidate Garners Largest Bitcoin Donation in U.S. History". River Front Times.
  28. ^ Stirewalt, Chris (January 5, 2018). "Presenting your 2018 Senate power rankings". Fox News.
  29. ^ Sterling, Sue (February 28, 2018). "Candidates file for state, federal offices". Daily Star-Journal.
  30. ^ Schallhorn, Kaitlyn (July 25, 2018). "Missouri Senate candidate raffling machine that can print 'untraceable' gun parts". Fox News. Retrieved August 15, 2018.
  31. ^ Roy, Brenton (July 24, 2018). "Missouri Senate race: GOP primary rival fumes over Trump support for Josh Hawley". Fox News. Retrieved August 15, 2018.
  32. ^ "Missouri Senate Republican Primary". CNN. August 8, 2018. Retrieved August 15, 2018.
  33. ^ Republican Liberty Caucus (January 30, 2019). "Republican Liberty Caucus Endorses Austin Petersen for US Senate in Missouri". Retrieved January 30, 2018.
  34. ^ "The Austin Petersen NAP Debate Is A Dream, And It Will All Be Over Soon". December 31, 2015.
  35. ^ "Austin Petersen's Case Against Libertarianism – Matthew Reece –". May 24, 2015.
  36. ^ "6 Reasons Why the Non Aggression Principle is Stupid". The Libertarian Republic. September 29, 2015.
  37. ^ Cook, Joshua (March 8, 2016). "Exclusive: LP Candidate Austin Petersen Responds to Colorado Debate Exclusion".
  38. ^ "Which Of These 11 Types Of Libertarian Are You?". YouTube. April 25, 2017.
  39. ^ "Austin Petersen Has a Constitutional War Plan for ISIS and a Reasonable Budget Proposal". Archived from the original on April 23, 2018. Retrieved April 23, 2018.
  40. ^ Doherty, Brian (May 11, 2016). "Austin Petersen, the Conservative's Libertarian Presidential Candidate?". Reason. Retrieved August 7, 2016.
  41. ^ "Austin Petersen via The Libertarian Republic". Facebook. September 9, 2015. Retrieved August 18, 2016.
  42. ^ 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.
  43. ^ Austin Petersen in studio on the Glenn Beck Show. YouTube. 2016. Event occurs at 24:16. Retrieved April 3, 2017.
  44. ^
  45. ^ "2018 Missouri primary election results". Retrieved July 15, 2019.

External links[edit]