Joe Sestak Running For President For Some Reason

Former Congressman Joe Sestak is the 24th Democrat to enter the race for President.

Former Congressman Joe Sestak, who is probably best remembered for his challenge to the late Senator Arlen Specter in 2010, is the 24th candidate to enter the race for the Democratic Presidential nomination:

Former congressman Joe Sestak (D-Pa.) announced Sunday that he is running for president, joining 23 earlier entrants in the presidential race.

Sestak made the announcement in a video posted to his campaign website.

“I’m Joe Sestak, and I wore the cloth of the nation for over 31 years in peace and war, from the Vietnam and Cold War eras to Afghanistan and Iraq and the emergence of China,” Sestak said in the video. “Born and raised in Pennsylvania, I grew up in this global canvas of service in the United States Navy.”

Sestak served two terms in the House, from 2007 to 2011. A retired Navy admiral, he also pursued two unsuccessful bids for the Senate, each time drawing the ire of national Democrats, who chafed at Sestak’s go-it-alone style and quirky personality.

Sestak first drew national attention in 2010 when he waged a primary challenge against then-Sen. Arlen Specter, who had switched parties to run for reelection as a Democrat.

The Obama White House, in an effort to dissuade Sestak from running, dispatched former president Bill Clinton to offer Sestak an unpaid position on a presidential advisory board if he dropped out of the race. Sestak said no. He bested Specter in the primary and later lost to Republican Pat Toomey in the general election.

Sestak pursued another Senate bid against Toomey in 2016, during which he walked alone across the state of Pennsylvania. Sestak lost in the Democratic primary to former Pennsylvania Environmental Protection Secretary Katie McGinty, who had been endorsed by then-President Obama and was boosted by more than $4 million in spending by outside liberal groups.

In his announcement video Sunday, Sestak touted his anti-establishment credentials, citing his 2010 Senate race and, in particular, Specter’s 1991 cross-examination of Anita Hill on the Senate Judiciary Committee.

“I disagreed that a Senator should be our party’s nominee who had humiliated Anita Hill, allowed to do so by members of our party as she testified about her sexual harassment by now-Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas,” Sestak said in the video.

Sestak also acknowledged that his entry into the White House race comes later than the other announced candidates. He said the reason for the delay was so that he could be with his daughter, Alexandra, after her brain cancer had returned.

“Throughout this past year, Alex again showed she is stronger than me, heroically beating the single digit odds once more, drawing on the fortitude of her mom,” Sestak said.

Prior to entering politics, Sestak had a long career in the Navy that began when he graduated second in his class from the Naval Academy. He spent more than 20 years in the Navy, rising to the rank of Admiral before retiring early in the 21st Century. In 2006 he was elected to Congress, representing Pennsylvania’s 7th Congressional District for two terms before deciding not to run for re-election in order to run for Senate in 2010. In the 2010 race, Sestak faced off in the Democratic Primary against Senator Arlen Specter, who had switched parties from Republican to Democratic. Sestak beat Specter and went on to face Pat Toomey, at the time a Member of Congress, in the General Election. Unfortunately for Sestak, 2010 was a heavily Republican year, especially in the Keystone State, and he ended up losing to Toomey. Sestak attempted a comeback in 2016, but lost the Democratic Senate primary that year and largely faded out of sight except for occasional appearances on MSNBC and other venues. Faded out of sight until now that is.

In all honest, this announcement comes as something of a surprise. Not only does Sestak’s announcement come relatively late in the game, especially for largely unknown candidate, but it is comes just days before the beginning of the debate season for the Democratic candidates. As a result, it’s hard to see how he’s going to get many people to pay attention to him or exactly why he thinks he can offer something that the other 23 candidates in the race aren’t offering. One suspects that he’ll basically end up being one of the also-rans that drops out long before the first votes are cast.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2020, US Politics, ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook


  1. Sleeping Dog says:

    All I can say, is that running for president must be profitable.

  2. Paul L. says:

    I always support Democrats who like Eric Swalwell are running on Gun registration and confiscation.

  3. grumpy realist says:

    I really wish fading politicians could find something else to do for their mid-age crises…..maybe take up knitting?

  4. David Diano says:

    This guy has always had an ego that puts him in league with Trump.

    When he first ran for congress in 2006, he told a strange story about a young sailor he ran across one evening on his ship, when there was possibility of an imminent battle. Sestak said (and this is a direct quote): “In that moment, I realized I was more than just his Captain. I was his Father figure. I was his Confessor. I was his GOD!”

    I kid you not.

  5. Kathy says:

    @Sleeping Dog:

    Is there a Bialystock & Bloom type scam one could run on a presidential campaign?

  6. Mr. Prosser says:

    All I can think about when I hear about this guy in “Land of the Lost.”

  7. Kylopod says:

    @Kathy: I’m sure you saw this before. It’s been linked to repeatedly here.

  8. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Paul L.: Did that comment pertain to something related to this post or are you just riffin’?

  9. Gustopher says:

    @Mr. Prosser: what monster would downvote that? A horrible, boring monster.