Editorial: Is Sestak more primary background noise?
If there’s one thing the Democrats didn’t need going into the first presidential primary debates, it was one more candidate.
Even one from Pennsylvania.
Yes, the state’s got everything: rural, urban, left, right, industrial, agricultural, basic education, higher education, rich, poor. If you’re going to speak to any state, speak to Pennsylvania and you speak to all of them.
Retired Navy Adm. Joe Sestak thinks he has one more windmill to tilt at after failed bids to join the Senate in 2010 and 2016.
There is nothing wrong with Sestak’s message of strong action on things like China and corporate accountability. It’s just that, in a field where there are already so many candidates, what does he bring to the table?
He’s a veteran. So is Rep. Tulsi Gabbard and Mayor Pete Buttigieg, although Sestak’s rank has them beat.
He’s been a congressman. Four people are running who have that job right now, and two others have it on their resume.
He’s known from Pittsburgh to Philly. Hello, Joe Biden.
He’s challenged the Democratic Party. Have you met Bernie Sanders?
He’s an underdog who won’t give up when he’s lost. So is Beto O’Rourke, another former House member with a splashy, failed Senate race under his belt. O’Rourke is polling at 1%.
So what does a late-June announcement bring to the mix? And why announce in Waterloo, Iowa, instead of Pennsylvania? As a military guy, Sestak should know that Waterloo is kind of synonymous with defeat and poor decisions.
For that matter, why are there still 24 official candidates in a race where only seven have enough recognition to get a percentage point or more in polling and the other 17 have become background noise.
Because the conventions are still a year away. In 2015, Donald Trump had barely announced his candidacy by this point in June. The field was crowded. Democrats jeered at the Republicans’ packed debate stage and “kids table” preshow debate for the candidates who didn’t make the prime-time cut.
Sestak can announce now because now is when things get serious. But things have to get serious fast for the whole contingent or else the field goes from flash mob to cat fight in a heartbeat.
Maybe Sestak will keep a focus on the international and military areas that are his strength. Maybe he will bring Pennsylvania attention to the debates (assuming he gets into one) that wouldn’t have happened without him.
Let’s hope so. A strong primary field benefits everyone. More background noise doesn’t.