Former Pa. congressman 'Admiral Joe' Sestak launches presidential bid

Justin Udo
June 23, 2019 - 12:55 pm
Former Rep. Joe Sestak is running for president.

William Thomas Cain/Getty Images


PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio/AP) — Former U.S. Rep. Joe Sestak has become the latest Democrat to announce a 2020 presidential bid.

The retired Navy admiral who calls himself "Admiral Joe" on his campaign website joins a crowded Democratic field seeking the nomination to challenge President Donald Trump. The 67-year-old Sestak launched his longshot candidacy Sunday afternoon at a veterans' museum in Waterloo, Iowa.

Sestak decried what he calls "America's retreat from the world" and says strong action is needed to deal with climate change, corporate accountability and China's geopolitical threat.

"The president is not the problem; he is the symptom of the problem people see in a system that is not fair and accountable to the people," Sestak said in his campaign video.

As part of his kickoff campaign, the former Delaware, Chester, Montgomery, Berks and Lancaster county congressman and U.S. Navy veteran touted his local roots.

"Born and raised in Pennsylvania, I grew up in the global canvas of service in the United States Navy," he said. "My commitment to service came from my parents. My father was a Dreamer."

He also made sure to use his service record to show his qualifications for the job.

Sestak served two terms in the House, then defied party leaders by running against incumbent Sen. Arlen Specter in the 2010 primary. Sestak beat Specter, but lost the general election to Republican Pat Toomey. Sestak sought a rematch against Toomey in 2016 but national Democrats recruited a primary challenger who defeated him.

He said he delayed his entry into the presidential race while his daughter battled brain cancer, which returned after she first beat it at age 4.

"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.

Sestak is one of more than twenty notable Democrats running in next year's presidental primary.


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