Joe Sestak becomes 25th contender to join the Democratic presidential primary

Sestak is a Navy veteran and former congressman who twice ran for Senate in Pennsylvania.
Image: Former Rep. Joe Sestak leaves a primary debate in Pittsburgh on April 5, 2016.
Former Rep. Joe Sestak leaves a primary debate in Pittsburgh on April 5, 2016.Bill Clark / CQ-Roll Call file

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By Allan Smith

Former Rep. Joe Sestak, a Navy veteran who twice ran unsuccessfully for a Senate seat in Pennsylvania, is now the 25th entrant into the Democratic presidential primary.

In a Saturday announcement on his campaign website, Sestak, 67, said he wants to be a president "who serves the American people the way they deserve to be served."

"What Americans most want today is someone who is accountable to them, above self, above party, above any special interest … a President who has the depth of global experience to restore America’s leadership in the world to protect our American Dream at home … and one who is trusted to restructure policies where too many see only the growth of inequity not of the economy," he said.

Noting that "while my announcement may be later than others for the honor of seeking the Presidency," his decision to delay his entrance into the race was so he could "be there" with his daughter, whose brain cancer had returned within the past year.

In the release, Sestak highlighted his military service — he was a three-star admiral — and said the "hour has become late to restore U.S. global leadership that convenes the world for two primary objectives that serve our collective well-being here at home: putting a brake on climate change and putting an end to an illiberal world order’s injustices, from China’s control of the 5G network to Russian interference in democratic elections."

"However, we cannot meet the defining challenges of our time without a united America," he continued. "This is our Hobson’s Choice: not just to win this Presidential election, but to heal our nation’s soul by regaining the trust of Americans — all Americans — by a President who the people know will remain accountable to them alone, no matter the cost to him."

In an email to NBC News, Sestak said he will soon be releasing a series of videos on his campaign website that will "go into greater depth about the reasons I am seeking the honor of serving."

The former congressman served two terms before running for Senate in 2010, where he defeated former Sen. Arlen Specter in a primary before losing to GOP Sen. Pat Toomey that fall. Sestak ran again in 2016 for that seat, losing the primary to Katie McGinty, a Clinton administration official.