Meet Joe Sestak — The 25th Democrat To Enter Race For President

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Who Is Joe Sestak? New Details On The 25th Democrat To Enter Race For President

If you thought the Democratic field of presidential candidates was finalized, think again. There’s one more person entering the race: former Congressman and Navy Admiral Joe Sestak of Pennsylvania.

Sestak has a long history of public service, with decades of Naval service that includes staffing the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs and serving as an advisor to President Clinton. He was a leader of the Navy’s anti-terrorism unit after 9/11 and retired from service to run for Congress in 2006. He served four years in the House before making two unsuccessful bids for the Senate. As the 25th candidate for the Democratic nomination, he may seem like just one more face in the crowd. But Sestak brings a unique perspective to the field and his experience adds valuable depth to the conversation.

Who is Joe Sestak? Read on for all the details.

1. Early life

Sestak was born in Secane, Pennsylvania, to parents Kathleen and Joseph Sestak Sr. His father was a Naval Academy graduate who eventually attained the rank of Captain in the Navy, inspiring Joe Jr. to follow in his footsteps. The younger Joe Sestak also attend the Naval Academy, graduating second in his class in 1974. Between tours of duty at sea over the next few years, he earned a Masters in Public Administration and a Ph.D. in political economy and government from Harvard University.

Sestak is highly educated.

2. Navy

All told, Sestak spent 31 years in Navy, rising to the rank of Admiral before he retired from the service. According to his official bio on his website: “Former 3-star Admiral Joe Sestak is an experienced, independent leader who served in the Navy for 31 years and then as the highest-ranking military officer ever elected to Congress when he represented Pennsylvania’s Seventh Congressional District.” His Navy career put him in some important places: he worked for General Colin Powell when he was the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and later he served under President Clinton at the White House. He walked out of the Pentagon just before it was attacked on 9/11 and he was tasked with establishing the Navy’s anti-terrorism unit in the aftermath of the attack. He even spent time as the Commander of a battalion of naval battleships in the days leading up to the wars with Iraq and Afghanistan.

He has extensive military experience.

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3. Congress

In 2006, Sestak ran for the House of Representatives, an uphill battle in his heavily Republican district. He won that election and went on to win his re-election bid in 2008 by 20 points. In 2010, he opted not to run for the House again, instead deciding to mount a primary challenge to Senator Arlen Specter, who was running as a Democrat, having recently joined the party after decades as a Republican. Sestak won the primary but lost the general election to Pat Toomey. He made another attempt at running for that seat in 2016, but that time he was defeated in the primary.

He wants to restore US standing abroad.

4. Walking across PA

When Sestak ran for the Senate the second time, he literally walked across the state of Pennsylvania. He put in over 400 miles on foot, trying to meet people face to face. He says on his campaign website that the Democratic leadership balked at his tactics and basically told him to “stop walking and just fundraise” but he remained undeterred. In his announcement for this presidential bid, he recalls that experience, saying: “If the establishment had joined me on my walk in Pennsylvania, it would have learned that the biggest deficit we have in America today is not the debt, but the trust deficit.”

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He takes a tough line on China.

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5. Family life

One of the reasons that Sestak sought office the first time and why he’s running now is his commitment to reforming health care. He has had an up close and personal experience with health care battles: his daughter was diagnosed with brain cancer when she was only four-years-old. She made it through treatment and Sestak says that “I knew then that I needed to answer to you, the American people. Because you had kept your word by providing the military healthcare coverage that saved our daughter’s life.” He brings that same passion to his latest campaign and confesses that he delayed his announcement for the same reason he went into politics in the first place: his daughter had a recurrence of cancer and he was waiting until her initial treatment was finished to make his entry into the race.

His daughter has overcome health challenges.

Because of his late start in campainging, Sestak was unable to participate in the first Democratic candidate debate. It remains to be seen how well his campaign will do in the upcoming months.

Rebekah Kuschmider has been writing about celebrities, pop culture, entertainment, and politics since 2010. Her work has been seen at Ravishly, Babble, Scary Mommy, The Mid, Redbook online, and The Broad Side. She is the creator of the blog Stay at Home Pundit and she is a cohost of the weekly podcast The More Perfect Union.