BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — A new name will be on the 2024 primary ballot as a Republican challenger to former Speaker of the House and Bakersfield congressman Kevin McCarthy: David Giglio.
Giglio, 35, is eyeing McCarthy’s seat in the House of Representatives for California’s 20th congressional district, which includes parts of Kern, Kings, Fresno and Tulare counties.
“Kevin McCarthy, to me, represents everything that’s wrong with politics,” Giglio told 17 News in an interview Tuesday morning.
Born and raised in Wallingford, Connecticut, Giglio moved to the Central Valley with his wife nearly seven years ago. He’s since opened up a sports collectible shop in Clovis and is the father of a one-year-old son.
“I just want to make sure that my son grows up in a country that that looks like the America we all know and love,” said Giglio. “I think this is the race to where ordinary Americans are going to show, we’ve been silenced too long, and I think that’s what made President Trump appeal so, so much in 2016.”
A supporter of and believer in Mr. Trump’s re-election, Giglio said he’s about getting things done for the American people, which falls under his being an “America First Republican.”
On Trump, Giglio said the former president was “entitled” to question the results of the 2020 election. He said he’s all for voter identification and cleaning up voter rolls.
“You cannot have a republic and a country where people don’t have faith in their election electoral process,” Giglio stated. “We have to do whatever we can to make sure that when the results come in, everybody’s confident in them. And right now, I don’t believe that exists.”
17’s Jenny Huh asked the candidate whether it’s accurate to call him a MAGA Republican, as national media outlets have been doing so.
“I will wear that label, but I don’t think it’s a negative thing,” Giglio responded. “I also think a MAGA Republican is kind of the same thing as an America First Republican… I don’t believe that there’s anything radical about ‘America First.’ In fact, I actually believe America First is far more mainstream than so-called traditional conservatism.”
Giglio added that, to him, making America great isn’t a far-right movement, but more so equates to delivering on his key issues, to make “life less stressful for the average American.” His key issues include setting term limits for politicians.
Giglio noted people like McCarthy, who’s been in Congress since 2006, shouldn’t be able to overstay their welcome. This, he said, is an area he’s open to bipartisanship on.
Investing in infrastructure, securing the border and solving the Central Valley’s water crisis are other priorities of the Giglio campaign. The former high school history teacher will also prioritize education and stressed during the interview that local schools, not the state nor federal governments, should have more say over students.
“I don’t support cuts to Medicare and Social Security,” Giglio said. “My whole thing is about helping the working and middle-class America — those are the people that are feeling left behind.”
To Giglio, McCarthy is the poster child of inaction.
“He made a ton of promises, because he spent his whole life wanting to get that gavel,” Giglio said. “He was willing to say and do whatever he needed to do to get his hands on it. But he didn’t actually intend on delivering those things.”
When Huh asked why he’s confident he himself can deliver concrete change, Giglio answered, “I’m not funded by any special interest, any lobbyists. I don’t wake up every day and say, man, I gotta run for office, because I want to be a politician, implying various speculations as to why McCarthy is up on Capitol Hill.
Giglio also said he wants to ban political action committees (PAC), as he wants “races to be about people.”
Via various financial contributions, including PACs, McCarthy has long been the GOP’s prolific fundraiser, and thus a critical spur in helping the party win key congressional seats.
Giglio, on the other hand, explained he expects a grassroots campaign with small dollar donors, similar to how he knocked on thousands of doors in his last campaign run. He called the eight Republicans who voted to oust McCarthy courageous and said he would’ve voted the same.
Earlier this month, McCarthy told 17 News he will not be resigning mid-term and will run for re-election.
McCarthy did not respond to requests for comment on Giglio’s campaign and his multiple call outs of the congressman.