Rahn opts out of Senate seat race, backs Melendez

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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 — Temecula city councilman Matt Rahn has announced on Tuesday, Nov. 5 that he will not seek to fill the vacancy left by 28th District Senator Jeff Stone’s resignation and instead throw his support behind Assemblywoman Melissa Melendez, who announced her candidacy on Monday night. 

Stone initially endorsed Rahn as he announced he would be vacating the seat to accept a Presidential appointment to serve as Western Regional Director of the United States Department of Labor.

According to a press release by Melendez’ campaign, Stone has now switched his endorsement to support Melendez who has represented the 67th Assembly District since 2012.

In a phone interview on Tuesday Rahn said he made the decision to step aside after discussing the campaign prospects with his family and considering other factors.

“I think the thing for me was having an opportunity to talk to my family, look at sort of what’s going on both personally and professionally and realizing that as much as I appreciate everyone’s confidence and support I have a lot of work and initiatives that we’ve started right here in Temecula and then professionally as well, that I simply can’t walk away from,” Rahn said. “Unfortunately I think the timing just isn’t where it needs to be.”

He said Melendez’ interest was also a factor in his decision

“It made it a lot easier for me to make that decision knowing that Melissa was interested in running for the seat,” Rahn said.

“It’s not an easy decision to make,” he said. “Unfortunately the other thing that happened was both professionally and otherwise a lot of things are starting to come to fruition here.  And it’s just difficult for me to step away from all that right now.”

Professionally, Rahn serves as Director for the CSUSM Environmental Leadership Institute and Wildfire Program. He is the lead instructor for the Environmental Leadership Academy and coursework in wildfire science, CEQA, water management, conservation planning, and energy.

“We’ve got some pretty incredible opportunities, especially related to the research and education we’re doing with firefighters,” he said. “And not surprisingly the work we’ve done on wildland fire and the urban interface has received tremendous attention and we gained exceptional traction this year. It’s been 15 years of your career working on these issues that are consequential, not just to the state, but nationally, and it makes it difficult to contemplate walking away from that.”

It is still up in the air whether a special election will take place or the vote will be included in the 2020 election cycle. 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. 

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