By Aryanna Berringer
Pittsburgh Current Political Columnist
When Admiral Joe Sestak entered the 2020 Democratic Presidential Primary Sunday, he became the 25th candidate in the race (though there could be more, who really knows at this point). Many of them are now racing all over the country to position themselves to become the Democratic Party nominee for President.
Many of you may remember Joe from his last campaign in which he walked across the entire Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to run for U.S. Senate back in 2016. He also had successful runs for Congress in 2006 and 2008 in his home district outside Philadelphia. In 2010, he ran against the now late-Sen. Arlen Specter in the Democratic Primary for Specter’s seat. To the surprise of most everyone, Sestak beat Specter before losing a close race to Pat Toomey that November.
His unexpected campaign announcement shook my social media newsfeed and there seemed to be a common refrain from all of the different factions in the Democratic party: “Say it ain’t so, Joe”.
“There are already too many people in the race.”
“How is he any different than the other old white guys running?”
“He’s too late!”
In his campaign announcement he touted his many strengths, including his 31 years in the Navy, and said “What Americans most want today is someone who is accountable to them, above self, above party, above any special interest…I want to be that President who serves the American people the way they deserve to be served.”
Now, I’ve had the opportunity to get to know Joe Sestak and while I think he truly believes his country needs him and the leadership he can offer, I don’t honestly believe that he will gain any traction amongst his 24 other competitors in a nationwide race.
What I do think he will accomplish, and what his fellow candidates will see, is a man who has a lifetime of service to our nation, understands politics and policy, and may be getting his name on the top of the list for a cabinet position for whomever takes over the oval office in 2021. Now, the United States will certainly need a new Secretary of Defense or Secretary of State, and I could see Joe making a play for either of those roles. What better opportunity for those who will have to make that appointment than to be reminded of who and what Joe has done.
Joe is no lightweight and was out there upholding and voting for progressive ideals before the Democratic party even began to use the term. Because of that, he gained significant support nationwide because of that leadership. He is also known to have challenged the Democratic Party (time and again) when it was necessary and even as a Naval Admiral, he stood up for his values while in uniform; these are the things that set him apart from the crowd.
Needless to say, it will be interesting to see how this all shakes out. I know that I am personally looking forward to hearing from the 2020 candidates that have met the DNC fundraising requirements and are allowed to participate in the debates this week (Wednesday and Thursday night in Miami, when 10 candidates take the stage each night).
While I know we all won’t agree on who to support this primary, it could be fun to start making Cabinet level selections from the pool…who wants to play that game with me?