by Matt Welch
2016 Libertarian Party presidential runner-up gets routed by establishmentarian Josh Hawley in the race to face vulnerable incumbent Claire McCaskill.
Two years ago, Austin Petersen, a former cable news producer at the then-tender age of 35, came in second place behind Gary Johnson in the race to secure the Libertarian Party presidential nomination—one that would end up being three times more successful than any of its predecessors, however otherwise frustrating.Last July, Petersen announced that he was leaving the L.P., without rancor, for the opportunity to confront one of the Democratic Party's most vulnerable senators, Claire McCaskill. He would be reinforcement for the lonely libertarianish likes of Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), talking Constitution and debt and free trade at a time when those once-bedrock conservative values are in open retreat. The only catch? He would have to beat a crowded Republican field for a coveted seat.
Tonight, emphatically, that did not happen.
At the denouement of a campaign in which he was known mostly as the candidate who auctioned off machine guns and periodically got banned from social media platforms, Petersen finished on the business end of an old-fashioned rout. Ninety minutes after polls closed, establishment frontrunner and state Attorney General Josh Hawley was declared the victor, with well over 50 percent vote in an 11-candidate primary field. With 1,687 of 3,228 precincts reporting as of 10:45 p.m. ET, Petersen was struggling near the bottom of a three-way race for a distant second, with 8.1 percent of the vote, compared to Air Force veteran Tony Moretti's 9.1 percent and 2016 senatorial challenger Kristi Nichols's 8.1...
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