Who: Joe Sestak
Current position: Retired Navy admiral and former two-term congressman
Campaign Website: https://www.joesestak.com
Background: Sestak is a retired U.S. Navy officer who served 31 years, eventually becoming a three-star admiral. Under President Bill Clinton, Sestak served as Director for Defense Policy on the National Security Counsel. He held a set of operational commands including commanding the USS George Washington in the Persian Gulf and Indian Ocean in 2002. In 2006, Sestak was elected to the House of Representatives and reelected in 2008. He decided not to run for reelection in 2010 and instead tried for Senate. He won the Democratic primary against incumbent Sen. Arlen Specter, but lost the general election to the Republican nominee. He tried to run for Senate again in the 2016 election, but lost the Democratic primary. Sestak was president of FIRST Global, a nonprofit organization which seeks to promote STEM education for high-schoolers.
2020 Campaign & Endorsements
Date Announced: June 23, 2019
- Jobs and Economic Protection: Sestak wishes to invest $1 trillion in an infrastructure expansion over 10 years. He also wants to create a national infrastructure bank “for loans and credit partnerships; a Build American Bonds program; and an expansion of the New Markets Tax Credit for underserved communities.” He also wants to ensure that all Americans have access to broadband Internet and make sure that service providers do not grant faster Internet access to some clients at the cost of others. He believes in supporting small businesses by “ensuring better access to capital, relieving regulatory burdens, and encouraging the export potential of small businesses.” Sestak wants to create tax incentives to investors to encourage them to lend to small businesses and entrepreneurs.
- Trade: On his website, Sestak says that he will re-join the Trans-Pacific Partnership “while improving the agreement to ensure that it serves our people, not merely our corporations.” Healthcare: Sestak wants to restore the Affordable Care Act and include a public option to “expand access to health insurance.” He wants the success of his public option to engender the transition to a national healthcare system based off the Veterans Health Administration. He advocates for allowing Medicare to bargain for the drug prices with the pharmaceutical industry. Sestak also wishes to import less expensive drugs from Canada.
- Environment: As president, Sestak will rejoin the Paris Accord, stop subsidies to the fossil fuel industry, fine carbon polluters with proceeds going to research renewable energy sources and strategies, ban offshore drilling, and give the EPA “full authority to regulate substances (like HFCs) that contribute to global warming.”
- Education: Sestak wants to establish universal preschool, protect Common Core, increase broadband Internet connectivity (especially in rural areas), restructure student loans and provide grants for tuition at community colleges and public universities, establish a national college credit transfer system, and create a “’Training for a Lifetime’ program to increase opportunities for job training and continuing education.”
- Foreign Policy: Sestak calls for re-joining the Iranian nuclear deal, modernizing our military by focusing on cyberspace capabilities, and supporting our military servicemembers (including LGBTQ individuals). Sestak also advocates for “reestablishing” ties and trade with allies “because countries that trade and do business with each other are much less likely to fight wars.”
- Women: Sestak’s website says that he wishes to “secure reproductive rights and reproductive health services for all women,” close the gender wage gap, “advance women’s opportunities in the military,” and “pass family and medical leave legislation.”
- Immigration: Sestak wants to “Secure our borders with smart technology such as drones and sensors, and sections of fencing where needed and appropriate; increase guest worker visas and oversight of guest worker programs; increase numbers of skilled immigrants, especially in STEM fields; create a path to naturalization for undocumented immigrants willing to pay back taxes, pass criminal background checks, prove gainful employment, and pass a basic English language test;e nd the shameful practice of separating children from their parents or guardians; restore dignity to immigrants and asylum-seekers in detention; grant all immigrants and asylum-seekers the right to an attorney; assure timely due process for all immigrants and asylum-seekers; work with the international community and explore innovative solutions to address the root causes of migration, including climate change, violence, and poverty.”
- Gun Control: Sestak wishes to close the gun show loophole and re-institute the assault weapons ban. He also wants to make changes to National Instant Criminal Background Check System “to ensure guns stay out of the wrong hands.”
This piece is part of our Election 2020 series. See below for more information on the most talked about Democrats challenging President Trump.