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By Eli Bowman
Austin Petersen has not officially announced that he’s running for US Senate out of Missouri, but he has certainly indicated his interest in doing so and appears to be mobilizing resources in a discovery effort to see whether or not a Senate run would make sense. Petersen has made it clear that he is no fan of current Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill, but “The Show Me State” has shown the nation that it has a very active left-leaning half of the state who have rallied behind McCaskill since 2005 when she first ran. Upending her incumbency would prove to be a monumental endeavor, but someone has to run against her, right?
Could a Republican win this coveted Senate seat from Missouri? That seems the logical choice. On second thought, perhaps the bright future of the rapidly up and coming Federalist Party can put an end to the McCaskill era and make history in the process. On third thought, maybe a Libertarian is what it will take to end the Democratic Senator’s tenure. If Austin Petersen plans on running for Senate, he needs to figure out which party to align himself with and he should probably do it by this Summer… while we could go on about what glorious bounty lay just beyond the horizon, let’s instead take the road less traveled and explore the absolute worst possible scenarios for Mr. Petersen.
If Austin Petersen Ran As A Libertarian
Should Petersen decided to run as a Libertarian; what kind of support would he get? Many inside the party have already witnessed pressure from party leadership to get Austin out of the way of their national political agenda. Petersen may have had a good delegate showing at the Libertarian Party national convention in 2016, finishing just behind eventual nominee Gary Johnson, but would he be able to duplicate that for a Senate run? If he DOES run as a member of the LP there would be many on the Republican side who might feel a little salty. The Republican Liberty Caucus has allegedly been courting Petersen to run under the GOP banner. If he flips his hair at them will they ever court him again? Petersen clearly has an affinity for certain members of the RLC, but would they be able to look past the shaft Petersen would give them?
Then there is the fact that Petersen wouldn’t win as a Libertarian. Period. No Libertarian short of an A-List celebritarian could dream of winning against a Democratic incumbent with a well-funded GOP contender in the mix. So while he may feel like he’s staying true to the party affiliation he’s enjoyed for the last decade, he’d lose. This would essentially make him 0-2 as a Libertarian candidate for national office. This is dangerous territory as losing too many times tends to brand one as, well, a loser. Just look at Mitt Romney.
Lastly, all of Petersen’s political capital is as a Libertarian. Running for the Senate seat would essentially be the equivalent of him spending it all. His devoted base of followers would certainly flock to support his run, but since the result would be a loss this would lead to a disenchantment among those who truly sacrificed in order to get to Missouri, knock on doors, phone bank, and otherwise campaign for him. It happens in every party with every politician in every big contest…some of their people unavoidably feel burned and depart for greener pastures, leaving Petersen with an empty political bank account that would need to be rebuilt. A process which that takes time.
Note: The last Libertarian to run against McCaskill lost to her by 49 points.
If Austin Petersen Ran As A Republican
This possibility hinges on one thing and one thing only, and that’s whether or not the Missouri state GOP gives Petersen their blessing to run, and by blessing I mean political clout and funding. If Petersen hasn’t already been actively seeking this blessing he will be less and less likely to get it, as the GOP has no doubt been planning their contest against McCaskill since she was re-elected back in 2012. Here we are in 2017, 5 years later, and Petersen has to hope they haven’t hand-picked their candidate by now.
The reaction from the LP wouldn’t be good for Petersen either. It goes without saying that the party that he pledged to remain in for at least the next decade would feel betrayed. His closest followers, whom he affectionately calls his “freedom ninja army”, would, by and large, follow him to the GOP with their support even though their own party affiliations may stay with the Libertarian Party.
The problem with burning the LP like this would be that he really could never go back and hope to compete for the party’s Presidential nomination, at least not for several years. Nicholas Sarwark, the National Chairman of the Libertarian Party, will be defending his seat next year, and those familiar with his way of running the party likely would agree that he would dissuade a Presidential nominee bid from Petersen if he split for the GOP and wanted to come back to carry the LP banner for President.
He isn’t likely to win as a Republican against Sen. McCaskill anyway since back in 2012 she beat Missouri GOP poster child Todd Akin by a massive margin of 16 points. So if Petersen runs GOP and loses he will not only suffer ramifications on the LP side but also on the GOP side since, once again, nobody likes a loser in politics.
If Austin Petersen Ran As A Federalist
Would he win as a member of The Federalist Party? Who knows. There are so many variables to this scenario that it’s hard to say, but it’s important to understand who the FP is. The Federalists are quietly amassing a large following consisting largely of Republicans, Libertarians, and classical liberals who have grown weary of the big government overtone to today’s GOP. While being a new and relatively unknown force in the political world they have exhibited the ability to reach far and deep within the ranks of small government champions. They are rumored to have a bright future as a well-funded, better organized, less socially conservative version of the Constitution Party. Welcoming many members of all parties, with particular interest from constitutionalists to minarchist libertarian types.
The Federalist Party must adhere to the same restrictive third-party ballot access legislation that has been a curse to the Libertarian Party, but their knack for innovative recruiting efforts is paying off. According to an anonymous inside source, state level Federalist Party organizations are already being put together and donations are already coming in as well. This level of organization and funding isn’t remarkable in itself, seeing as how the GOP and LP have had this in place for years, but when you consider the fact that the FP has officially been in existence for only 3 weeks it actually is pretty freaking remarkable. You can’t do that without having your stuff together.
Back to Petersen running for the FP. The odds of him winning as a Federalist are likely not good either since McCaskill seems to have a Vulcan death grip on that Senate seat, but unlike the other two options, there is a considerable future for AP in the Federalist Party. Being the first Federalist to run for a national level office would not only be historic but could make Austin Petersen the Ron Paul of the new Federalist movement…which is a liberty movement. Is that a stretch, perhaps…but he would certainly be a Celeberalist.
If Austin Petersen Didn’t Run
He would win because he wouldn’t lose. Furthermore, he could save up his political capital for a run at U.S. Congress or even a State Representative seat as a member of the LP, GOP or even FP…and win.