WASHINGTON — Joe Sestak, the Democratic ex-congressman from Delaware County, ended his long-shot presidential campaign Sunday, leaving the race just as abruptly as he entered it less than six months ago.

In a crowded Democratic field in which even high-profile senators and governors have struggled, Sestak couldn’t make a national dent. The former Navy admiral and two-term congressman never hit 1% in national polls and has failed to qualify for any of the party’s national debates.

“A moral compass for our great ship of state is the beacon most needed today. And it is for the Captain of State who offers it that all Americans will provide the fair winds and following seas to advance us,” Sestak wrote in an email to supporters that said little about his reasons for leaving the race, and instead focused on the joy he got from campaigning.

“Without the privilege of national press, it is unfair to ask others to husband their resolve and to sacrifice resources any longer. ... I will miss the opportunities I had in experiencing America in such a wonderful way!”

Sestak entered the 2020 race out of the blue on June 22 and campaigned in his typically unorthodox and relentless style, spending 62 days in Iowa over the summer, basing his campaign in a Des Moines Econo Lodge, and recruiting homeless veterans to pass out fliers.

He campaigned on the same messages he deployed in his failed U.S. Senate bid in 2016, emphasizing trust and accountability with a heavy dose of Navy metaphors. Just as he walked 422 miles across Pennsylvania that year, he trekked roughly 100 miles across New Hampshire earlier this year.

One fellow outsider sent his thanks to Sestak on Sunday.

“Your country still needs you in a very big way,” tweeted Andrew Yang, the businessman also seeking an atypical route to the White House.

In 2016, Sestak lost in Pennsylvania’s U.S. Senate primary when national party leaders rallied behind Katie McGinty. He had not held public office since narrowly losing a 2010 Senate race to Republican Sen. Pat Toomey after winning the 2010 Democratic primary by defeating Arlen Specter, the longtime Republican senator who had switched parties.

On Sunday, Sestak signed off his email to supporters: “With my deepest appreciation, please accept my final note of service to you. Joe Sestak.”