Joe Sestak, a former Navy admiral and congressman from Pennsylvania, said he was joining the crowded field of Democratic candidates running for president in 2020.
“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,” Mr. Sestak said.
His announcement came later than those of the other Democratic candidates. He said the delay had happened because he had wanted to spend time with his daughter, who had been battling brain cancer but had since beaten it.
Mr. Sestak, 67, a native of Pennsylvania, was elected to Congress in 2006, defeating a 10-term incumbent. He served in the military from 1974-2005, finishing his career as a three-star Navy admiral.
He commanded an aircraft carrier battle group that conducted combat operations in Afghanistan and Iraq; served as President Clinton’s director for defense policy on the National Security Council in the White House; and served as the deputy chief of naval operations for warfare requirements.
Mr. Sestak, who had a reputation as a hard-charging and demanding taskmaster, positioned himself in his announcement as a supporter of working-class Americans. He said that during his time in Congress, his office had fought to overturn denials of treatment by health insurance companies and to save more than 800 homes from foreclosure, as well as to help veterans.
In describing his platform, he said, “Our country desperately needs a president with a depth of global experience and an understanding of all the elements of our nation’s power, from our economy and our diplomacy to the power of our ideals and our military, including its limitations.”
Referring to President Trump, Mr. Sestak said: “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.”
Although he enters the race later and against more well-established candidates, Mr. Sestak is no stranger to long-shot political bids.
He mounted an improbable victory in the 2010 Democratic primary to gain the party’s nomination to run for a United States Senate seat in Pennsylvania.
That quixotic yearlong quest to win the Democratic Senate nomination pitted Mr. Sestak against an array of Democratic power brokers, from the White House to the governor to organized labor to the party apparatus to Democratic donors.
Mr. Sestak defeated Senator Arlen Specter, who had served in the Senate for nearly three decades as a Republican but who, in a political bombshell, announced he was switching to the Democratic Party because he could not win re-election in a Republican primary. Mr. Sestak lost in the general election to Republican Patrick J. Toomey, a former congressman.
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