A topic that continues to circle the internet and social media is whether or not Austin Petersen, former candidate for the Libertarian nomination for President in 2016, made a good choice in leaving the Libertarian Party for the Republican Party. The further commentary involved in his bid for the United States Senate as a Republican is that the Libertarian Party is losing out.
During 2016, we analyzed the race for POTUS among the five top contenders in the Libertarian Party, Petersen included. Today’s analysis will be on the Missouri race for U.S. Senate, as well as the current status of the the Libertarian Party, and how it is more detrimental for Mr. Petersen than the Libertarian Party with his exit.
First, let’s establish that Austin Petersen does have the ability to motivate a grassroots campaign and his social media strategy is definitely on par with what is necessary for that avenue. Neither of those points are in dispute. During his 2016 run for POTUS, he was able to effectively become runner up in the highest profile office in the United States, with over 1,000 delegates attending the National Convention.
However, he’s going from being a bigger name in a small crowd to a smaller name in what is likely to be a crowded field come 2018, with all the stops coming out.
This Senate seat has been identified as a possible weak seat in the DNC. Republicans will be making sure the candidate nominated will be able to effectively take on Claire McCaskill. This is not going to be an easy task for seasoned legislator.
Before any primaries begin for Republicans, it can be safely assumed that Senator McCaskill will be the Democratic nominee. This gives her a distinct advantage of not needing to utilize funds against a primary opponent. In the event that there were to be a challenge to her from within the DNC, however, her reports according to the Federal Election Commission has her cash on hand at $5,117,810.00.
In comparison, Austin Petersen has no reports filed as of this writing. This means he either has not met the required $5,000 reporting requirement, or has met the requirement but hasn’t reached the deadline to post notice. If we look to what he was able to accomplish in his bid for President as an example of what he will be able to do, his FEC report places him at raising $115,433.21. Financially, he is already a fish out of water in comparison to the war chest at the disposal of McCaskill.
Granted, should he be the nominee, he would likely raise quite a bit of funds to put up a fight, but that brings us to the next point: overcoming in the Primary.
The first, and most obvious hurdle, for Mr. Petersen is one that remains from his bid for POTUS in 2016: the lack of experience. While it is commendable that he established his own website that runs liberty oriented articles and has run a small business, he has no experience in the scale of running for the U.S. Senate. Especially when you take into consideration two likely candidates in the Republican race, Paul Curtman, who has an exploratory committee, and Eric Schmitt, who was called to speak with leadership in Washington, D.C.
Both of the aforementioned candidates have resumes that one would look for, especially from Republican leadership, in who will get support in a primary race.
Paul Curtman is young, upcoming Republican and has held legislative office since 2010. The committees he serves on as a Missouri legislator put him in line to push common talking points seen in Republican campaigns, backed by experience. He sits on the Committee on Government Efficiency as Chairman, Select Committee on General Laws, Joint Committee on Government Accountability, Ways and Means, and Appropriations- Corrections.
To further his experience, he also has ten years of service, four years active duty and six as a reservist, in the United States Marine Corps as an infantryman.
Eric Schmitt is a Republican leadership dream come true in regard to running for an office as high as the U.S. Senate. He has all the bonafides that are looked for. On top of a rather extensive political career, he also has connections outside of politics that will make him a force to be reckoned with in a Primary. Each adds credibility that will get nods of approval from Republican voters.
In his community, he has been an active member for the boards of DeSmet Jesuit High School, Nurses for Newborns Foundation, St. Louis Crisis Nursery, and a Parents as Teachers Program. He had previously been elected chairman of the Young Lawyer Section Council of the Missouri Bar, led a statewide Giving Tree effort to benefit Big Brothers Big Sisters of America, and created a Special Needs Advocacy Task Force. He has also been involved with the TS (Tuberous Sclerosis) Alliance, the Gateway Chapter of the Autism Society of America, Habitat for Humanity, and local Chambers of Commerce.
- Elected alderman for Glendale, Missouri 2005-2008
- Elected State Senator 2009-2017
- Elected State Treasurer in 2017
Legislative Awards and Other Honors
Eric Schmitt has won numerous awards for his service, including:
- 2016 St. Louis Regional Chamber Legacy Award
- 2016 Conservation Federation of Missouri, Legislator of the Year Award
- 2016 St. Louis ARC Superhero for Kids Award
- 2015 St. Louis Regional Chamber Champion Award
- 2014 American Conservative Union Defender of Liberty Award
- 2014 Easter Seals Outstanding Advocate Award
- 2013 Americans for Prosperity Defender of Prosperity Award
- 2013 St. Louis Regional Chamber Champion Award
- 2013 Missouri Police Chiefs Association Just Cause Award
- 2011 St. Louis County Bar Association Outstanding Young Lawyer
- 2010 St. Louis Business Journal 40 under 40 class
- 2010, 2011, and 2012 St. Louis Business Journal Legislative Award
- 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012 St. Louis Regional Chamber and Growth Association’s Lewis and Clark Statesman Award
- 2011 Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry Spirit of Enterprise Award
- 2011 Associated Industries of Missouri’s (AIM) Good for Business Award
- 2010, 2012 Homebuilders Association of St. Louis and Eastern Missouri’s Legislative Award
- 2010 Thompson Foundation for Autism’s Appreciation Award
- 2010 Missouri Association of County Development Services President’s Award
Should either of the two officially enter the race, Austin will be facing stiff competition from two experienced individuals with all the right connections and experience.
There are also issues that are bound to come up, whether he makes it through the Primary or not. Politics is a dirty world and there is enough dirt to be found on Petersen that will be brought to light. This is the exact type of information we would expose if we were advising a campaign opposite Petersen, and if we can find this information this easily, guaranteed it is already in the hands of the people Petersen will be running against, with talking points, commercials, and other advertisements at the ready.
- The Pyramid of Pussy is going to come up. The conversation Austin Petersen had with Christopher Cantwell will be played (censored if run on TV), and it will be women who are in the ads stating their objection to having him representing Missouri.
- He will be hammered on his statements that running as a Republican is nothing more than opportunism.
- While not being an issue to Libertarians, him stating that he is an atheist on several occasions will hurt him among evangelical Republicans in Missouri. This will likely be brought up. Perhaps not by a Republican opponent directly, but a conservative PAC will likely run with it.
- He will be challenged that in his bid for President, during the Primary in Missouri, he lost the race to uncommitted. This will be brought up b anyone to challenge his credibility and ability to win elections.
- Social media screen shots will become a huge problem for him in either a Primary or General election. He has hundreds floating around where he has attacked people, including voters and delegates, in arguments online. It will be argued that we have no need for a social media troll in the U.S. Senate.
Each of those five things will be difficult to overcome. Each can be verified easily, most can be effectively put into advertisements against his candidacy.
As for the Libertarian Party, we will be just fine getting along without him. First, libertarians have other individuals with similar capabilities to Austin, like Larry Sharpe, who can make up the difference of what was lost by Austin moving on. The gaps will be filled.
Should Austin lose in the Primary, his political career is likely over. It is difficult to run with a proven loss record after a couple attempts. His only saving grace is if, and it is a big if, he runs and loses in the General election. Only then can he blame incumbent advantage and a $5 million war chest stopping him from being elected. If he runs a close campaign in the General, he might be able to set up a decent run for another office. Shy of that, however, he will be sunk as another “has run.”