Joe Sestak

Sestak in 2019, photo by Sheila_F/

Birth Name: Joseph Ambrose Sestak, Jr.

Place of Birth: Secane, Pennsylvania, U.S.

Date of Birth: December 12, 1951

*Slovak (father)
*German, Irish (mother)

Joe Sestak is an American politician and U.S. Navy officer. As a member of the Democratic Party, he served as a Member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Pennsylvania, from January 3, 2007 to January 3, 2011. He is a Vice Admiral, having retired as a Rear Admiral.

He was a candidate for the Democratic Party’s nomination for President of the United States in 2020.

Joe is the son of Kathleen and Joseph Ambrose Sestak. His father was a Slovak immigrant, and his mother is of half German and half Irish descent. Joe is married to Susan L. Clark, who works in environmental, foreign policy, veterans, and other affairs. The couple has a daughter.

Joe’s paternal grandfather was named Martin Sestak. Martin was born in Dolné Lovčice, and came to the U.S. in 1922.

Joe’s paternal grandmother was named Helen. Helen was Slovak.

Joe’s maternal grandfather was George Anthony Schlichte (the son of Anthony Schlichte and Elizabeth M. Wenners). George was born in Massachusetts, to German parents.

Joe’s maternal grandmother was Agnes C. Muldoon (the daughter of Miles Muldoon and Susan Waters). Agnes was born in Massachusetts, to an Irish father and to a mother who herself was born in Massachusetts, to Irish parents.

Joe is one of several people of significant Slavic ancestry to have run plausible or semi-plausible campaigns for a major political party’s nomination for President of the United States. Of these candidates, four have won a major party’s caucus and/or primary. The four are:
*Harold Stassen (Republican; in 1944, he won 1 state, Nebraska; in 1948, he won 4 states; in 1952, he won 1 state, Minnesota; Stassen also sought the 1964, 1968, 1976, 1980, 1984, 1988, and 1992 Republican nominations; Stassen’s paternal grandmother was Czech)
*Edmund Muskie (1972; Democratic; won 4 states; Muskie was previously the 1968 Democratic nominee for Vice President of the United States; he was of Polish descent)
*Tom Harkin (1992; Democratic; won 1 state, Iowa; Harkin’s mother was of Slovene descent)
*John Kasich (Republican; ran in 2000 and 2016: in 2016, he won 1 state, Ohio; Kasich is of Czech or Rusyn, and Croatian descent)

Other people of significant Slavic ancestry who have mounted plausible or semi-plausible campaigns for a major party’s nomination for President of the United States are:
*George H. Bender (who sought the 1960 Republican nomination; Bender was of Czech descent)
*James Traficant (who sought the 1988 Democratic nomination; Traficant’s mother was of Slovak descent)
*Dennis Kucinich (who sought the 2004 and 2008 Democratic nominations; Kucinich’s father was of Croatian descent)
*Gary Johnson (who sought the 2012 Republican nomination, and was the Libertarian Party’s 2012 and 2016 nominee for President of the United States; Johnson’s mother was of Ukrainian descent)
*Tim Pawlenty (who sought the 2012 Republican nomination; Pawlenty’s father was of Polish descent)
*Amy Klobuchar (who sought the 2020 Democratic nomination; Klobuchar’s father is of Slovenian descent)

Sources: Genealogy of Joe Sestak –

Joe’s mother on the 1930 U.S. Census –

Joe’s maternal grandmother, Agnes C. Muldoon, on the 1920 U.S. Census –

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