Rahn honored by Stone’s endorsement to fill senate seat

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Temecula city councilmember Matt Rahn has dropped out of the race to fill the vacancy in the 28th District left by Stone. Courtesy photo

TEMECULA — After California’s 28th District Senator Jeff Stone announced Wednesday, Oct. 30 that he would be vacating his seat in order to accept a Presidential appointment to serve as Western Regional Director of the United States Department of Labor, he quickly endorsed Temecula city councilmember Matt Rahn.

“One of my major considerations when deciding to accept this appointment from the President was to make sure our district continues to be represented by someone who shares our values and commitment to protect taxpayers,” Stone said in a press release. “Councilman Matt Rahn checks all those boxes and more. He is a dedicated public servant with an impressive background and I am happy to endorse Matt.”

Stone began his new role on Friday, Nov. 1. 

On Tuesday, Nov. 5, Rahn announced he would not seek to take Stone’s place, instead throwing his support behind Assemblywoman Melissa Melendez who announced her candidacy on Monday, Nov. 4.

Speaking by phone on Thursday, Oct. 31, Rahn was appreciative of Stone’s gesture. 

“I genuinely appreciate his confidence in me to be able to take care of the seat and the represent the district,” Rahn said. “I appreciate the support and his endorsement on all of this. I certainly am very humbled by the amount of support and the number of people out there who have been very encouraging for me to consider this senate race.”

Senate Republican Leader Shannon Grove also endorsed Rahn. 

When asked what it means to receive the endorsements, Rahn admitted it would be an adjustment. 

“For me personally, it means having to contemplate a change,” Rahn said. “I love what we’re doing with the city of Temecula and I know that we’ve had some amazing successes. I appreciate all the support we’ve had in making all of that happen. Moving on to or even contemplating a role with the state senate is very different. I think a lot of the successes and things that have benefited Temecula can be easily translated into the job you have to do as a senator.”

Rahn recently decided against a run for California’s 50th congressional district seat currently held by the embattled Duncan Hunter, saying he had too much left to accomplish in Temecula. 

The endorsement by Stone changed his view once again, and with the blessing of his wife, Kelcey, he’s accepted the challenge. 

“It’s an interesting opportunity,” Rahn said. “She understands the importance of the kind of representation that I bring to not just our city, but potentially to the senate district. I’ve been lucky to be married to such an amazing person and such a supportive person who is willing to share me with the district and the state.”

It is still up in the air whether a special election. According to a report by the Desert Sun, Democrat Joy Silver, who came within 3.1 percentage points of defeating Stone in 2018 has stated she will file paperwork to run for the seat as well. 

The newspaper said California State Assemblywoman Melissa Melendez, 67th district, and a Republican like Rahn, is considering jumping in as well. 

Emails to Melendez’s office were not returned prior to the publishing of this story. 

“I look forward to seeing how the next couple of weeks play out,” Rahn said. “So there’s still a bit of uncertainty in how all of this plays out over the next couple of weeks. 

“Oftentimes these campaigns become about a person or personalities, that sort of thing, and it’s a race to the bottom. I would really hope that this campaign, especially with the timeline we’re looking at, you know, let’s talk about the real issues that are affecting our region.”

Rahn said he will likely campaign on the things he thinks have been successful during his five years on the Temecula City Council. 

“This all goes back to our quality of life,” he said. “What is it that matters the most to you on a day to day basis? Again, it’s public safety, it’s transportation and infrastructure.”

Given his more than 20 years in higher education, Rahn believes the continued development of education and training in the region is important. 

“Being someone who’s worked in higher education for so many years, I think there’s a wonderful opportunity for us to really create a new model for how higher education works in our communities,” he said. “Like Temecula Valley and in the desert, you see these wonderful campuses that are emerging that work with multiple different institutes of higher education and learning. I think we’re really trying to foster that here in our city and for our region. And I think it’s the same model that could work throughout the senate district and really throughout the state.”

Rahn served as Mayor for the city of Temecula in 2018 after he was first elected to the city council in 2014. He was re-elected to his District 1 council seat in 2018 by a wide margin. 

According to Temecula City Manager Aaron Adams, if Rahn were to vacate his seat on the council, the council would have the option of calling for a special election or appointing a replacement. 

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