Now, as Democrats around Pa. position themselves to challenge Gov. Tom Corbett, Sestak remains vague about his plans.
“I want to serve again, and want to do it right,” he responded in an email from the Delaware County Daily Times about a possible Guv run. “My daughter Alex thinks I am too involved in her homework and asks when I am going to get out there again!” he continued, asked about a 2016 Senate run.
Sestak’s golden resume – including once serving as a three star admiral in the U.S. Navy – and formidable fundraising skills make him a top tier candidate. He maintains a staff as well as a network of interns across the state, and is a frequent guest on national cable news shows.
But his practice of keeping big decisions within his family circle frustrates some party leaders.
“Who the hell know what Joe does,” said one party insider at Democratic state committee last weekend. “Joe’s gonna do what he’s always done, and we’ll find out the day after he decides.”
“That’s my nightmare,” said one Delaware County Democrat of the possibility of Sestak joining a primary field with Treasurer Rob McCord and Congresswoman Allyson Schwartz, both of whom are poised to run and both of whom reside in Montgomery County. “A southeast civil war.”
Another noted Sestak’s 2012 dance, when he declined to say whether he would challenge freshman Rep. Pat Meehan (R-Delco) for his old seat. He was similarly vague in his run-up to challenging Sen. Arlen Specter in the primary.
“A lot of people blame him for three losses,” said another Delco Dem. “His seat in 2010, the Lentz seat in the state House, and the congressional seat again last year.”
“But there’s no question he’d give Corbett a formidable challenge,” he continued.
State Rep. Bryan Lentz left vacant his seat to run against Meehan in 2010.
And there’s another option on the table: the Department of Defense.
Likely incoming Secretary Chuck Hagel endorsed Sestak during the 2010 Senate race. Both have reputations as DoD reformers who lack the historic aversion to military budget cuts and each has supported direct engagement with U.S. enemies such as Iran.
It’s familiar territory; Sestak worked in the Pentagon for years following his command of the USS George Washington.
And given that Sestak and his family have a residence in Virginia, a commute to Arlington might be more appealing than the drive to Harrisburg.