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'American Idol' Dad Takes On Gillibrand for Senate Seat

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Former Rep. Joe DioGuardi, left, is running for U.S. Senate. His daughter Kara, right, is an 'American Idol' judge. (YouTube/AP Photo)

Move over, Scott Brown, you're not the only politician with an "Idol" connection. 

Former New York Rep. Joe DioGuardi on Tuesday announced his bid for the U.S. Senate seat held by Democrat Kirsten Gillibrand, returning to politics less known as a former GOP congressman than as the father of "American Idol" judge Kara DioGuardi

DioGuardi served two terms in Congress during the 1980s and has since written a book, but recently has been asked more about his famous daughter, who just did a racy photo shoot for Maxim magazine, than his political ambitions. 

"What am I, chopped liver here?" DioGuardi asked Fox News after being regaled with his daughter's accomplishments. 

Seriously, though, DioGuardi said Kara was a big source of support during his campaigns two decades ago and "of course" backs his run this time around. 

"She's encouraged me to do it," he said. 

DioGuardi is the second Senate candidate with a claim to the hit show. Ayla Brown, the daughter of recently sworn-in Republican Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown, was a semi-finalist in 2006. 

The field in New York could use some celebrity power. So far, the race for Gillibrand's seat has been conspicuously uncompetitive. 

Former Tennessee Rep. Harold Ford was considering challenging Gillibrand in the Democratic primary, but recently nixed that idea. He claimed the party pursued a "campaign to bully me out of the race." 

Billionaire Mortimer Zuckerman has ruled out a challenge as well. 

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg's girlfriend Diana Taylor was approached by GOP officials about taking on Gillibrand, who was appointed by Gov. David Paterson to the seat held by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Taylor has not shown interest. 

DioGuardi joins New York attorney Bruce Blakeman in the Republican field. 

Since leaving office DioGuardi, who says he was the first practicing CPA elected to the U.S. Congress, founded Truth in Government, a non-profit organization dedicated to fiscal sustainability and decreasing the national debt. 

He told Fox News on Tuesday that, as he did two decades ago, he wants to focus on reining in the "credit card mentality" on Capitol Hill

"It's important that someone weigh in today when we see this profligacy in Washington. No one wants to stop spending," he said. 

On Monday, Gillibrand greeted DioGuardi's entry into the race in an interview with Fox 5's "Good Day New York," dismissing questions about her new opponent's potential ride on "American Idol" popularity. 

"Anyone's welcome to run, of course. I welcome the debate. I welcome the challenge," she said. 

Unlike Brown's daughter, who took an active role in her father's Senate bid, Kara DioGuardi likely will not be on the campaign trail. DioGuardi said Kara tries to get together with family as often as she can but it is difficult. 

"We're a bicoastal family," he said. "She's on the West Coast. I'm on the East Coast."