Joe Sestak: Retired admiral and congressman becomes 24th Democrat to join 2020 race

Lily Puckett

Another Democrat has joined the race to become the party’s 2020 candidate.

Joe Sestak, a retired three-star Navy admiral and former two-term congressman from Pennsylvania, became the 24th person running for the Democratic top spot on Sunday.

“The president is not the problem,” Sestak said in his lengthy announcement video. “He is the symptom of the problem people see in a system that is not fair and accountable to the people.”

The 67-year-old says two of his biggest priorities are “putting a brake on climate change and putting an end to an illiberal world order’s injustices, from China’s control of the 5G network to Russian interference in democratic elections.”

He also cites healthcare, women’s rights, and violence prevention among his campaign’s major issues. On the latter issues, he writes: “As the father of a daughter and brother of six sisters, I believe we must fight violence against women in all its forms.”

In his announcement video, he explained that his late campaign start, announced just two days before the rest of the candidates hold their first debate, was due to the return of his daughter Alex’s brain cancer.

“Throughout this past year, Alex again showed she is stronger than me, heroically beating the single digit odds once more,” he said of her current condition, adding that their daughter drew “on the fortitude of her mom.”

Sestak last won an election in 2008, for his second term as a Pennsylvania’s seventh congressional district.

In 2016, he lost the Democratic senatorial primary in Pennsylvania to Katie McGinty, who then lost the general election to Republican Pat Toomey. He blames this defeat on “Democratic leadership” rejecting his campaign style.

In 2010, Sestak himself lost to Toomey, in that year’s senate race.