In another newcomer-versus-long-term incumbent, retired Vice Adm. Joseph Sestak is challenging incumbent Republican Curt Weldon for the U.S. House seat in the 7 Congressional District of Pennsylvania.

This is considered to be one of the tougher challenges for Weldon, since Sestak has raised as much campaign money as the Republican.

Democrat Sestak is a Springfield, Delaware County native who has spent the last 31 years in the United States Navy following his graduation from the U.S. Naval Academy. And it's that time away from the district that the Weldon campaign has been focusing on in the race.

The Weldon campaign did not return phone calls for this story, but has previously been critical of Sestak, referring to him as a carpetbagger who was hand-picked by national Democrats to run against the 10-term congressman from Thornbury.

Sestak has maintained his home in Virginia since his retirement, but said that's for his 5-year-old daughter's benefit. Alexandra Sestak has been treated for brain cancer. Sestak said she has a support system in place there and he doesn't want to remove her from that.

It was while spending time with his daughter in the hospital that led Sestak to enter the race. He said he saw a disparity in healthcare availability, and has made that one of his campaign issues.

Other issues are economic, education and defense security. Sestak said he wants to reduce the national debt and restore budget discipline. In addition he wants to promote early childhood learning, provide affordable education from kindergarten through college and invest in school infrastructure.

He has said the Navy offers a model of how well providing education and health care should work, and that without taking care of its sailors, the sailors can't do their jobs properly.

In an interview in Chadds Ford in May, Sestak said people need to feel they have a fair opportunity with a choice in educational opportunities.

"They need to a choice in public or private universities, to pursue what is of interest and not be limited by financial resources. We want independent thought," he said at the time.

The retired admiral has been critical of Weldon's voting record, saying he's been in lockstep with the president.

Sestak, 54, commanded an aircraft carrier battle group of 30 ships and more than 15,000 sailors during combat operations in Afghanistan and Ira. He said the U.S. should commit to a date certain for withdrawing forces from Iraq by the end of 2007. He added that we might have gotten Osama bin Laden had we not been diverted from that effort by going to war in Iraq.

In an e-mail exchange this week, he said his first priority will be to "return to a pay-as-you-go government that is committed to affordable and accessible health care for all."

What he most wants to accomplish as a United States congressman is to "reverse the erosion of our country's four pillars of national security: our defense security, health security, economic security, and education security. I will work to guarantee our long-term strategic interests in the world through a strong defense. We must set a timetable for redeployment from Iraq by the end of 2007 and return our focus to ensuring our global security."

Sestak was appointed the first director of "Deep Blue," the Navy's anti-terrorism group after 9/11, and served as Pres. Clinton's Director of Defense Policy at the White House.

Weldon served as mayor of Marcus Hook and was a volunteer firefighter. He was first elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1986. His is vice chairman of the Armed Services Committee and of the Homeland Security Committee. He is also a member of the Science Committee.

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