Sestak Offers Few Clues About 2014 Plans

Joe Sestak headshotFormer Rep. Joe Sestak (D-Delaware) has spent nearly as much time answering questions about running for office as he has serving in elected office.

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.

21 Responses

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  3. TommyD-

    Don’t be fooled. Sestak is more of a Republican than Specter ever was.

    And, it was SESTAK, who refused to work with anyone who hadn’t already sworn loyalty/fealty to him by backing him in the first place. Specter supporters who reached out in unity to Sestak’s campaign for the general election were turned away. Joe’s a pretty vindictive s.o.b. about that.

    Sestak’s campaigns have always been about hoarding data, and turning out Republicans by running away from down-ticket Dems. Never about the party and the ticket advancing. His 2006 field director summed it up perfectly when she said, “F*ck the other candidates. I don’t care if they all lose. Joe’s the only one that matters.”

    In 2007, when asked about Joe helping raise funds for local Delco candidates, Joe’s brother/manager Richard said, “Why should he? It’s not his contest. No one here did anything for him.” This little gem by Richard was utter less than 5 minutes after Joe gave a speech to the Delco Dems stating “It wasn’t MY victory. It was YOUR victory. I couldn’t have done it without you.”

    So, while Sestak was raised a roman catholic, his behavior pays homage to Janus, the two-faced god of roman mythology.

    BTW, Sestak showed up at last night’s Delco Dems nominating convention. Thankfully, he was not asked to speak. We had the far more inspirational Josh Shapiro as a guest. Joe shook a few hands and gave his patented BS “I haven’t decided” response.

    News Flash: Governor is a position for people who can make decisions.

    Other candidates have demonstrated their ability to DECIDE, and even have staffs with them.

    The sharp politicos at the Delco Dems event all knew that Sestak is just blowing smoke in an attempt to use speculation to keep his name out there, while he plots another failed run in 2016.

  4. Casey and Rendell are responsible for Sestak’s loss. They wanted a Republican to be the Democratic Senator, but when Joe won they primary they had a snit fit and wouldn’t back him in the general. So we ended up stuck with a Wall Street shill.

  5. Beth-

    No. He he finished. He might run again, but he’s not going to win.

    His only shot is senate in 2016, if Hillary runs, because the Clintons would help him.

    However, there will be better candidates waiting in the wings. Josh Shapiro has been a great public servant, and super bright.

    Kathleen Kane could probably beat Toomey as well.

    Joe’s getting old. He’ll be in his mid-sixties, and a one-term senator even if he wins. When Joe ran in 2010, he was very clear that he’d be two old for more than two terms. So, with one term (and $20 million) behind us, why would anyone want to waste money on Sestak as a one-term senator? ?

  6. @Jeremy
    My comment was about Sestak as a person and a possible executive, not a comparison to his 2010 opponents. It was widely known among politicos that he was terrible to his Congressional staff, and then to his campaign staff, working them ridiculous hours and paying them poorly. He didn’t work with other candidates, and only cared about his own campaign. Those are not qualities I would like to see in a governor.

  7. @Jeremy —
    I think Sestak in 2010 could’ve been ahead in the polls over Toomey by 30pts and he still would have abandoned the party. He’s just a self-serving SOB. Personally, I was never thrilled about him running for the Senate. I volunteered for Joe and was excited about him winning the 7th district in 2006. Back then I never thought that after 2 terms he would’ve abandoned the seat and the Republicans get it back only to gerrymander the district to keep it for Pat Meehan. Hindsight is 20/20 but the party should have originally supported Lentz over Sestak. And I HATE to admit this because Dave Diano is crazy BUT when it comes to Joe Sestak he is 100% accurate. The Democratic Party deserves a better nominee than Joe Sestak.

  8. “Joe lost by two points AND his political career is over.”

    Don’t think so. Wouldn’t count on it…..

  9. Jeremy-

    The only thing Sestak and I have in common is that we both know he is full of sh*t when it comes to helping fellow Democrats and the party.

    As for life-long Republican, I bet Sestak voted for Nixon, Reagan and Pappy Bush. He probably voted for Weldon, Specter and Santorum as well.

    You are correct about the moderate R’s leaving in 2008, and Specter wouldn’t have been able to win GOP primary against Toomey. However, in a general election, Specter owned the middle and could have prevailed. Sestak ran to the Left in a the primary and didn’t challenge Toomey for the center.

    Joe lost by two points AND his political career is over.

  10. @ Dave. If you weren’t so anti-Sestak, I would think you actually were Joe Sestak. You have a ton of information on him. Your like an encyclopedia.

    @everyone else. Could you blame Sestak for abandoning the party in 2010? In some ways, he was making the best choice possible. Remember, when you have no good choices, no choices are good!! If he ran as a Dem, he would have got slaughtered by, who knows, 10 points or so and his political career would have been over. Instead, he ran as a lone wolf and lost by 2.

    It was the Tea Party’s 2010 and there weren’t many Dems winning. As far as Specter goes, Specter switched parties because all the moderate Repbulicans swtiched to Democrat in 2008 to vote in Hilary vs. Obama. Only hard right people were left in the Republican party. The problem was that he didn’t have enough support in the Dems either. After all, he had been an establishment Republican for his whole life.

    For the record, I don’t know who I am supporting but Sestak came to my county last year. That goes a long way.

  11. Abington Dem-

    In Oct 2010 (at height of Senate campaign), Sestak filed a building permit for his house in Alexandria, VA for work on an extension. So, you are dead-on about his being VA resident.

    His wife registered here temporarily in 2006 for his first campaign, then dropped her PA registration when Joe got elected. Wife and kid live in VA, so if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck….

    BTW, the “commute” to Pittsburgh for his teaching gig is about 5 hours and 300 miles each way. According to CMU’s website, Sestak taught two classes in Fall 2012 (none currently). Tuesday evening class, and Wednesday morning class. Since the round trip is almost 10 hours, and the time between classes only 12.5 hours, Sestak would have to stay overnight.
    Then it’s hotel/motel (or stay over with a “friend”). Tolls are $20 each way. Gas is probably $50 each way.
    So, 10 hours of driving, $140 out of pocket, and an overnight stay just to teach two classes that are each 3 hours long plus prep-time?

    The pay for Adjunct professor at CMU is $60/hour on average. So, 6 hours of instruction = $360/week minus $140 in gas and tolls == > $240 (before taxes) and then minus an overnight stay ($80?). So, $160 for 6 hours of teaching and 10 hours of driving….. $10/hour before taxes.

    Seems kind of fishy to me.

    Joe’s not really a leader, but rather someone who just likes to be in charge and order people about (which was his eventually downfall in the Navy because Admiral Mullen wasn’t having Joe abusive command continue).

    As for the post-Primary, you are correct about him running away from the Dems. Sestak removed the work ‘Democrat’ from his ads (even ones he had used in a primary with Dem).

    Joe’s got no real support left. He used/abused too many people during the campaign with little or no pay for their efforts, and they’ve moved on.

  12. Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa….

    This article says: “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.”

    If he lives in Virginia then what the hell is Sestak doing trying to run for office in Pennsylvania???? If I’m not mistaken, Virginia has its own Governors race this year. So Sestak should run for that office since that’s where he really lives.

    As the years pass it seems more evident that Sestak is seriously lacking when it comes to principles instead it just seems as if he’s running to attain power through getting elected. And I by no means am a “Sestak-Hater” like David Diano. But I will say that my support for him over Arlen Specter in 2010 was a HUGE mistake. In the general election he proved to be very disappointing and self-serving. He was at the top of the ticket and rather than display leadership and rally the party infrastructure he goes out criticizes Democrats all the way up to President Obama. After the primary he acted like a petulant child with sense of entitlement and in all honesty he deserved to lose to Toomey because he treated the party like garbage. That is something that myself and lots of Democrats across the state will NEVER forget.

    Sestak walks and talks like a Democrat but he acts like a Republican and I’ll never support him again. As far as the governor’s race is concerned right now I’m torn between McCord and Schwartz (actually slight leaning Schwartz). But I’d take either of them (or any other Democrat) in a heartbeat over Sestak.

    Truth be told, I’d rather see both Corbett and Toomey get re-elected than have the Governor’s Mansion or a PA Senate seast occupied by a Virginia resident which is exactly what Joe Sestak is. So I hope Joe and his staffers read this message when I say to “STAY IN VIRGINA AND LEAVE PENNSYLVANIA POLITICS TO PENNSYLVANIA RESIDENTS!!!”

    Sincerely Yours,
    Abington Township Dem Committee Member

  13. Sestak can’t afford to lose.

    If he does, he’s even more finished than he already his. Enough “good money has been thrown after bad” on him already.

    If he runs and loses the Gov primary, it will be his second statewide defeat in a row. He won’t be able to raise bus-fare after that.

  14. I am somewhat surprised this article only received 4 comments including mine. It seems that the “Schwarz for Gov” movement is hot right now and has the momentum.

    Most people are split on Sestak running. I think this race will be a three way race between Sestak, Schwartz and McCord. If McCord loses, he stays in his position. If Sestak loses but Schwartz wins, Sestak runs for the Senate in 2016 and vice versa.

    I guess we must wait and see!

  15. Lisa-
    very true. The guy is a terrible executive. In the Navy, his crew was stuck on the ship and couldn’t walk away. If Sestak were governor, we’d lose every competent public servant with an ounce of self-respect.

    A clear sign of how far Sestak’s 2 1/2 stars have fallen is the lack of posts on this story about Sestak. Gone are his minions and lemmings.

    five hours, and only 3 posts (two of them from me 🙂 ). All negative.

    Sestak is a washed up has-been, who’s readily more of a never-was.

  16. Sestak is a jerk who doesn’t play well with others, and treats his employees horribly. The only thing worse than having him as a nominee for Governor, would be if actually became Governor.

  17. Sestak certainly caused a cascade of losses with his 2010 run. Also, MILLIONS of $$$ in wasted money.

    It cost around $3.5 million to win the seat from Weldon.

    Once he was in, Sestak $4.5 million that he raised from donors under the guise of “holding the 7th”, even though the GOP had no credible challenger (and Meehan would NOT have run against Joe in 2010 for the seat).

    Lentz raised another $2 million for the 7th, that didn’t get us a seat.

    So, that’s $10 million dollars to get us a two-term congressman (who spend his entire second term running for Senate). So, really, a one-term congressional seat. (Sestak voted twice to give Bush a blank check on Iraq, voted for Telecom Immunity and Warrantless Wiretaps and voted against Single-payer health care). Considering that standing up to Bush on Iraq was the issue that got him elected in the first place, his betrayal hit pretty hard.

    Also, Specter had $10 million in the bank for the fight against Toomey. Not of dime of that got spend on Toomey.

    Plus the few million that got spend by Sestak in the General election. The Dem Senate Campaign Committee spent money on PA race (that could have been spend holding Russ Feingold’s seat).

    So, Sestak pissed away over $20 million, and cost us TWO senate seats, and caused a scandal for the President.

    Specter would have beat Toomey (or cost us a lot less if he lost).

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