Joe Sestak, a former Navy admiral and Pennsylvania congressman, has ended his bid Sunday for the Democratic nomination for president. His exit from the 2020 race leaves 17 Democrats seeking the nomination.
“Without the privilege of national press, it is unfair to ask others to husband their resolve and to sacrifice resources any longer,” Sestak said in a letter to supporters. “I deeply appreciate the support so many of you offered — whether by volunteering, offering financial contributions or coming to our campaign events.”
Sestak entered the race in late June, months after Democratic frontrunners Senators Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg and even former Vice President Joe Biden, who jumped into the race in April. He told CBS News in an interview shortly after entering the race he was inspired to launch a bid for the White House by his daughter’s battle with cancer. He said she beat brain cancer twice, most recently last year.
“Yeah, I’m a little late but as I told someone else, she also gave me a sign a long time ago that said, ‘Life’s not about waiting for the storm to pass. It’s about being out there dancing in the rain.'” he added. “And yeah, it’s a challenge. But I think this is an important one. And I’m bringing certain things to the primary.”
Joe Sestak seen November 8, 2019, in Orangeburg, South Carolina.
SEAN RAYFORD / GETTY
Sestak, a Vietnam veteran who also served in Afghanistan and Iraq, hoped his 31-year career in the Navy would distinguish him among Democratic voters. But he entered too late to qualify for the first debates, which would have provided him with national media attention and fundraising opportunities, and then did not make the Democratic National Committee’s tougher thresholds for the later debates.
In his final message to supporters, Sestak said he would “cherish every moment” on the campaign trail, “whether a veteran from a maximum security penitentiary calling to say, ‘hey, Joe, the guys have heard you’re running for president, and they want you to know they’re going to organize Philadelphia for you,’ or the tears of a transgender youth as she quietly told me she just wants what everybody else wants.”