Rahn decides against run for congressional seat

Temecula city councilmember Matt Rahn, shown here during a candidate forum for city council reelection in 2018, talked with the Valley News about why he chose not to run for California’s 50th Congressional District seat in 2020. Jeff Pack photo

Temecula city councilmember Matt Rahn told Valley News this week that he has chosen not to run for California’s 50th Congressional District seat currently held by embattled Rep. Duncan Hunter.

“We’ve closed our committees and have moved on from having an interest in being part of the Congressional race for the 50th District,” Rahn said in a phone interview.

Rahn cited a number of reasons why he was walking away from the race that seems to have a new name added to it on a monthly basis.

“From my perspective, there’s a couple of things, one was, and I think probably the most important was that you know, I’ve spent years now cultivating progress and success for our region, right?” he said. “And I think in a relatively short period of time, I’ve been able to help foster some pretty amazing opportunities that are now fundamentally changing our region for the better. As we increase education and training, jobs, public safety and even some of the most significant stories we’ve seen in transportation, bringing back that $50 million in federal funding,. I’m seeing all of this tremendous success and I’m thinking, ‘why would I stop doing this?’”

Rahn served as Temecula’s mayor in 2018 and was reelected in November by a large margin to represent District 1 for another term. But in December, he announced he was forming exploratory committees to consider a challenge to Hunter, who stands accused of using $250,000 in campaign funds for personal expenses, including dental work and trips to Italy and Hawaii.

Despite the accusations that surfaced in early 2018, Hunter was able to hold off a challenge from Democrat Ammar Campa-Najjar in November. But with the trial underway, and Hunter’s wife accepting a plea agreement from the feds, his foothold on the seat is in jeopardy.

For more than four decades, the 50th District has been held by Hunter and his father, Duncan L. Hunter before him, together serving for almost three decades.

“As far as the race is concerned, there’s just simply too much uncertainty,” Rahn said. “There’s a lack of focus. And then, unfortunately, I think growing divisiveness, not just among the candidates themselves, but among obviously the parties as well.

“While everybody is sort of in a holding pattern, trying to understand what’s going to happen to Congressman Hunter and how that all sorts out, the tremendous amount of uncertainty surrounding all of that is enough to say, ‘I can’t afford to have that focus taken away from the success of our region.’”

Rahn said he is proud of the work he’s done, along with the rest of the council, to put Temecula on the map.

“I’ve had a wonderful time introducing Temecula to our federal government and forging some pretty strong relationships,” Rahn said. “Our representatives and most folks in Washington D.C. now know who we are. They’re no longer wondering who Temecula is, nor are they wondering what the priorities are for our community.

“The silver lining of all of this is Temecula is now a very important part of the conversation. I think for the first time, really, folks are definitely paying attention to us. We’re making our voice heard, and I plan to continue that and represent our city the best I can.”

Jeff Pack can be reached by email at jpack@reedermedia.com.