Stephen Bloom at T-D

Stephen Bloom, a Pennsylvania state representative from Cumberland County who is running for the Republican nomination in the 13th Congressional District, talks with Tribune-Democrat reporter Dave Sutor on Tuesday, April 24, 2018, in the T-D offices.

Back in the early 1900s, Stephen Bloom’s great-grandfather, Imre Vajda, emigrated from Hungary to Seanor, Somerset County.

He worked in coal fields, owned and operated a small inn and eatery in Windber and eventually saved enough money to buy a dairy farm in Connecticut. Now, just over a century later, his descendant is running in a political race with hopes of becoming a United States congressman for the area where Vajda first planted his family’s roots in the new world.

Bloom, a state representative from Cumberland County, is one of eight Republican candidates in the 13th Congressional District that includes all of Somerset and Bedford counties, along with parts of Cambria and Westmoreland counties.

“I’ve been really optimistic about America, and the future of America and the opportunities here,” Bloom said during an interview at The Tribune-Democrat on Tuesday. “I’ve studied enough history, I’ve studied enough world cultures to know that we have something very special.

“I think the experiment that our founders created when they set up our federal republic – this constitutional republic – is just a miracle amongst the nations. And so, for me, this part of my family story, living out the American dream, is part of the root of my optimism and my hope that other generations can experience the same thing.”

Bloom serves on the House Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee – which he said connects him to the days when Vajda owned his dairy farm.

“I care a lot about agriculture,” Bloom said. “It’s in my roots. It’s a strong interest I’ve always had. I’ll be certainly a voice for Pennsylvania agriculture in the U.S. Congress.

“I know that the industry has been really struggling, especially the dairy industry, lately. I understand that a lot of struggles that they face are certainly always going to be on the top of my mind to help PA and be a voice and an advocate for agriculture.”

When discussing issues of local importance – poverty, the opioid epidemic, out-migration and infrastructure upkeep, Bloom said, “Ultimately, those things – long term – the fix is going to always be economic growth. If we can’t grow the economy, if we can’t grow good quality jobs, that brain drain will continue.

“We’ve got to help encourage enterprises to invest here in Pennsylvania, here in Johnstown and throughout these economically stressed areas.”

Bloom describes himself as a pro-life, pro-Second Amendment, fiscal conservative – which, as he acknowledges, is similar to how his opponents identify themselves, too.

But Bloom said his legislative record on those issues separates him from the pack. Throughout his political career, Bloom has received high grades from the National Rifle Association and American Conservative Union, along with steady zero ratings from Planned Parenthood.

“I feel like the distinction for me is that I’ve been a state representative for 7 1/2 years,” Bloom said. “I have actually lived out those promises.”

Dave Sutor is a reporter for The Tribune-Democrat. He can be reached at (814) 532-5056. Follow him on Twitter @Dave_Sutor.

Trending Video

Recommended for you