OHIOVILLE – Ending a 422-mile walk across Pennsylvania, former Congressman Joe Sestak said Saturday he hoped the trek will ease what he called the country’s biggest shortfall – the “trust deficit” between politicians and the people who elect them.
The Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate began the final leg of his journey in Beaver County near the Ohio line before finishing at an Ohioville park, along with 40 supporters.
“I want to earn their trust and let them know that I’m not above accountability,” Sestak said after completing his “Walking in Other Pennsylvanians’ Shoes” effort that he began when he announced his campaign March 4.
Sestak, a former Navy vice admiral from suburban Philadelphia, is hoping to win the seat now occupied by Republican Pat Toomey, who narrowly defeated him in 2010.
Other than trust, which is what “everyone nods their heads about,” Sestak said the issues he has heard about most are small business job creation and affordable education. If elected, he said, he’ll work to ease the regulatory burden on small businesses and increase their access to venture capital.
On making the trip, Sestak said his feet held up well but his footwear has seen better days. He said the cold was the issue.
A day of hiking in Huntingdon County ended long after midnight on a mountain in strong winds; Sestak said he went to bed at a hotel in his flight jacket and under multiple blankets but still couldn’t get warm.
When he returns to the Philadelphia area, he plans to “go home and hug my wife and 13-year-old daughter.”
Sestak’s 31-year Navy career included commanding an aircraft carrier battle group in Afghanistan and Iraq. After retiring, he was elected twice to the U.S. House, then in 2010 upset five-term Sen. Arlen Specter in the U.S. Senate primary. He lost to Toomey in the general election by 2 percentage points.