Matt Rahn is running for State Assembly in the newly-drawn hyper-conservative 71st district that straddles Orange and Riverside Counties. He’s from the Riverside end of the district, serving on the Temecula City Council there – and he’s been registered Republican since he moved into that conservative city and then successfully ran for city council. He previously ran unsuccessfully for Congress and State Senate.
Thanks to the jacked-up top-two primary system, Rahn is the top-two run off against conservative Kate Sanchez who hails from the Orange County side of the district. I’ve known Kate for many, many years. She’s an activist with a long history of speaking out and helping advance conservative candidates and causes. She’s also a friend – the kind of friend you make walking precincts, stuffing mail, and making GOTV phone calls. In the June election, despite a vast funding advantage for Rahn, he only got 51.7% to Kate’s 48.2%.
To be honest I had not been paying a lot of attention to this seat, or this race, until now. I don’t know Matt Rahn – to my knowledge I have never met or even spoken to him. I can tell you after a round of calls to people I look to over in Riverside County – he does not have a reputation as a conservative or as an ideologue. On the contrary, he’s been described to me as “wonky” and someone who fancies himself a policy problem-solver. Makes sense. He’s a university professor I believe.
Some folks that I trust were willing to share that they don’t think he’s really a Republican at heart – but that in that part of Riverside County you cannot get elected as anything but a Republican (nice to know there are still some parts of California that are deep red). But then people that I called started sending me stuff about Rahn’s background. Stuff that is enough to give one pause… Here’s a few of them.
RAHN SUPPORTED A LOCAL SALES TAX HIKE IN HIS CITY
In 2016, Rahn was a supporter of a 1% increase in the city’s sales tax. I read that in a newspaper article. Campaign filings show he made a contribution of more than $2000 to support the tax increase as well. I’m told he voted to place it on the ballot, too, which would be consistent with his support. So, on the basic issue of holding the line on higher taxes in his own city, as a policy maker, he was advocate for higher taxes.
ENDORSED KAMALA HARRIS FOR UNITED STATES SENATE
Also in 2016, when Kamala Harris was running for United States Senate, Rahn endorsed her. Thanks to the Wayback Machine I was able to go back to Harris’ U.S. Senate website and confirm Rahn’s endorsement of her. There really is no defense for this. In the runoff it was two Democrats – Harris vs. Rep. Loretta Sanchez. Was it Harris’ support for gun control? Or abortion on demand? Did you publicly endorse either one? Me neither. This is gross.
MULTIPLE TIME REPEAT DONOR TO PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA
Between May and October of 2016 Rahn donated to the reelection of President Barack Obama – not once, not twice – but EIGHT times. I personally verified these donations on the Federal Elections Commission website. I personally was an early supporter of then Texas Governor Rick Perry – but all Republicans circled up behind Mitt Romney’s bid. Well, not all Republicans apparently. Rahn was for four more years of Obama, which he got. Maybe he loves Obamacare?
I’m going to leave it to all of you to dig deeper if you want. There’s more that was sent to me, but I haven’t had time to verify what are, in some cases, pretty extreme claims about Rahn.
Is Matt Rahn the next Chad Mayes (after he was dumped as Assembly GOP Leader for supporting “Cap and Tax” he showed his colors, leaving the GOP all together) or Tyler Diep (winning as a conservative but voting so poorly for the priorities of labor that he was defeated for the GOP nomination in his first re-election)? He most certainly doesn’t sound like someone who is looking to go to Sacramento and do battle with the majority party. His reputation, like I said, is that is that he a policy wonk that wants to be a problem solver. But is that the right person to send to Sacramento when the problem is political, and the need is to attack and expose majority Democrats for how they are driving this state to ruin? Rahn strikes me as the kind of guy who will want to be everyone’s friend up there (to try, in vain, as a Republican, to sit at some sort of problem-solver’s table).
For my part, I’m glad Kate’s in the race. I know what we are getting if she goes to Sacramento. A strong conservative representing one of the most conservative districts in California.
Jon Fleischman is former Executive Director of the California Republican Party. He is Past President of the California Republican Assembly.