BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — Bruno Amato (D-Bakersfield) announced his candidacy Thursday for California’s 23rd Congressional District.

A Navy veteran and working actor, Amato said he is “taking on Kevin McCarthy to bring better leadership to my community in the Central Valley.”

The son of Italian immigrants and a member of SAG/AFTRA, Amato said he was “horrified by the events that unfolded on January 6th, 2021,” and was disheartened with how McCarthy responded to the Jan. 6 riot at the capitol.

“Even this unprecedented breach of our democracy wasn’t enough to convince Republican Kevin McCarthy to put our nation’s interests ahead of his own,” Amato stated as he declared candidacy. “In fact, in the days leading up to the riot, McCarthy was spreading lies about the results of the election, falsely claiming Donald Trump had won, egging on the rioters who eventually stormed the Capitol,” he continued.

Amato criticized McCarthy for not hosting an “in-person town hall in ten years.”

“Unlike my opponent, I’m not a career politician, and frankly, I never had any ambition to become one. But I can’t stand aside as my own representative continues to disgrace the country my parents fought so hard to get to, and that my father and I served to protect.”

If elected, Amato, a former ironworker, said he would prioritize union jobs, affordable healthcare, and “repairing the torn fabric of our democracy.”

In a statement, McCarthy said, “the 23rd Congressional District is a special place and it is my highest honor to represent our community in Congress. As I have been since day one, I remain committed to fighting for a strong, fiscally responsible, and free America where every person can achieve the American dream.

“As your Congressman, I will always fight for the Central Valley and your voice will always be heard in the People’s House.”