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By Jeff Pack

Temecula councilman Rahn files paperwork to run for Congress


Last updated 12/27/2018 at 12:03pm

Jeff Pack

Temecula City Council member Matt Rahn has filed paperwork to run for the U.S. House of Representatives representing California's 50th District

With just a few days left in his term as Temecula mayor and coming off a decisive win in his re-election bid to serve on the council, Matt Rahn has filed paperwork to run for Congress in 2020.

Rahn will run for California's 50th Congressional District seat currently held by embattled Representative Duncan Hunter, who recently won re-election despite a challenge from Democrat Ammar Campa-Najjar in a close race decided by just 4 percentage points.

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.

The tight race this time around can be best explained by an indictment lodged against Hunter and his wife, Margaret, for allegedly using $250,000 in campaign funds for personal expenses, including dental work and trips to Italy and Hawaii. A trial date has been set for September.

Though Rahn wouldn't point directly at the vulnerability of Hunter's hold on the seat, he acknowledged the opportunity, even if it was unexpected.

"(Running for Congress) was never in the cards," Rahn said. "It was developed as more of an exploratory committee than anything else, there's an opportunity to let this play out in the courts and I am interested in seeing the results just like everyone else is. I don't need to get involved in an area that has good representation, and I don't need to be there upset the apple cart, so to speak.

"But if we do see a shift and see change within the district, I think it's important that we have the right kind of representation and I think a balanced representation," Rahn said.

The 50th District covers much of inland San Diego County, including the cities of El Cajon, Escondido, San Marcos, Santee and even portions of Temecula.

According to his city biography, Rahn has more than 20 years of experience in higher education and university research and as a land use and policy professional. He received his bachelor's and master's degrees from the University of Nevada Reno, his doctorate from University of California Davis and his law degree from the University of San Diego.

"Since I moved to California almost 20 years ago," he said. "I actually had the opportunity to work in most of the district. I worked down at San Diego State University for years, and we worked on a lot of projects in areas like the upper San Diego River, all of that area, down through Ramona. As a consultant, we work on a variety of projects from water to wind to energy and transportation projects."

Rahn said his experience working in all those regions gives him a good understanding of what is important there.

"Over the years, you discover what the things are that matter," Rahn said. "It's the same thing we worry about in Temecula, right? It's quality of life. Your ability to drive to and from work safely and efficiently, the response times and public safety and our ability to keep our communities safe. It's the same stuff we always care about, yet you don't hear a lot about that from the congressional side."

Rahn said he was disappointed by the tone of the recent election for the seat.

"The name-calling, the rhetoric, we're better than that," he said. "Maybe it's a little naive of me, but I'd like to see campaigns focus on the candidates on their track records and their positions, not a race to the bottom of personality and rhetoric.

"You need good representation in a district and when you go through that process and everybody at the end of it is so bloodied and bruised, how does anybody in that district have any confidence that anybody sitting there is going to do the job that is needed?" Rahn said.

Rahn said he anticipates that more than a few candidates for the seat will emerge.

"A lot of it speculation and rumor at this point, but there's a lot of interest in (the seat)," Rahn said. "I want to make sure that whoever represents the district has the district's best interest in mind, has the experience working in that district and really understands what is consequential to people living there."

If he were to be elected to the seat, Rahn said leaving the Temecula council would be difficult.

"It would probably the most difficult thing I'd ever have to do in my professional career," he said. "My time on the city council and as mayor has been probably one of the best experiences of my life.

"Temecula is a unique community, from my perspective anyway, it's an example of how a city should be run, not everything's perfect. When you look at the success the city has had and the direction it's going, it's exciting to be a part of that momentum.

"So this decision is not being made lightly or flippantly at all. So this is a very careful, weighted choice," Rahn said.

Jeff Pack can be reached by email at [email protected]


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