The 2020 Presidential and Senate races continue to heat up as two retired flag officers announced plans to run for president and challenge a sitting senator on the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC).
Retired Vice Adm. Joe Sestak announced June 22 that he would be running for the Democratic nomination for president, joining an already crowded race of over 20 contenders. A Navy veteran of 31 years, he served as a surface warfare officer, with his career culminating as deputy chief of naval operations for warfare requirements and programs.
He previously served as the head of the Strategy and Concepts Branch in the office of the Chief of Naval Operations, and from 1994 to 1997 he served as the director for defense policy on the National Security Council staff during President Bill Clinton’s administration. Sestak represented Pennsylvania’s 7th District as a Democrat in the House from 2007 to 2011. He ran for senate twice, losing in 2010 to Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) and later falling in the Democratic primary for a rematch with Toomey in 2016.
While in the House, Sestak served on the House Armed Services Committee (HASC) and was known during his time in the Navy as well as on the Hill for pushing for budget cuts and for calling for fewer ships in the Navy, from 375 down to 260 ships. While in the House, he unsuccessfully introduced legislation that would require disclosure of confidence levels for major defense acquisition programs, and included language for cost-estimation oversight if the confidence level was under 80 percent, The Washington Post reported in 2011.
In the policy section of his campaign website, Sestak pledged to “Modernize our military by focusing on the capability of cyberspace and no longer measuring our prowess by force structure numbers alone.” His policies also include an emphasis on cyberspace domination, to include both cybersecurity and cyberwarfare.
On the Senate side, Retired Army Brig. Gen. Donald Bolduc on Monday announced his bid to run against SASC member Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.). Bolduc served for 36 years in the Army, and his career assignments include being commander for the Combined Joint Special Operations Component in Afghanistan, as well as deputy director for U.S. Africa Command (USAFRICOM) and Special Operations Command-Africa (COMSOCAFRICA) commander.
“As I have traveled throughout New Hampshire, sharing what I have learned about leadership, as well as my experience with [Post-Traumatic Stress], many fellow Granite Staters urged me to consider running for office,” Bolduc said in a Monday tweet before announcing his candidacy.
His issue stances, as laid out on his new campaign website, veer strongly Republican, with Bolduc calling for enhanced border security and affirming his support for the Second Amendment.
Shaheen has served in the Senate since 2009, and before that she served as governor of New Hampshire from 1997 to 2003. She is the first woman elected to become both senator and governor in U.S. history. She currently serves on SASC’s subcommittees for seapower, emerging threats and capabilities and readiness and management support.
Meanwhile, Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), who sits on the Senate Appropriations Defense Subcommittee, is facing a new Democratic challenger. The Pine Tree State’s Speaker of the House of Representatives Sara Gideon also announced her bid in a Monday video. Collins has served in the Senate since 1997, and served as the chair of the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee from 2003 to 2007.