Former U.S. Rep. Joe Sestak announced in an email Tuesday morning that he is forming an exploratory committee to run for the Senate in 2016, setting up a likely rematch with incumbent Republican Sen. Pat Toomey.
That explains where the $460,000 Sestak raised in the first quarter is going to go. The announcement also comes a day after Pennsylvania Republicans filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission, saying Sestak had violated campaign-finance regulations by raising the money without declaring what office he was seeking.
Democrats, too, have been trying to divine Sestak's intent. He was the party's 2010 nominee for U.S. Senate, losing to Toomey, but had been talking to some supporters about possibly jumping into the Democratic primary for the nomination to run against Gov. Corbett in 2014.
In the blast email, Sestak spoke of the need to restore trust in the nation's leaders in Washington - particularly in members of the Senate.
"The government of the people has rarely been held in such low regard by the people, undermining our sense of unity – what we stand for and what we are capable of," Sestak said in a press statement following the announcement to supporters. "In particular, the U.S. Senate’s lack of leadership and lack of accountability has meant our nation careens from crisis to crisis, paralyzing the governing of our nation."
Sestak's decision clarifies the governor's race. Early polls show the frontrunner is U.S. Rep. Allyson Schwartz, but a long list of contenders is jockeying for the chance to take on Corbett, who is at a political low ebb.
A retired rear admiral in the U.S. Navy, Sestak lost by just two percentage points in 2010, in a year when Republicans swept to control of the U.S. House. In Pennsylvania, the GOP won the governorship that year, and turned five congressional seats from blue to red, by an average of 11 points.
Sestak has a lush announcement video, filmed in front of Independence Hall. Interestingly, he uses "We the People" as a theme, one that has been associated with the Tea Party.