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Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Sean Penn stumps in Petaluma for Congressional candidate

Originally published by The Press Democrat

Photo: Crista Jeremiason / The Press Democrat
Actor Sean Penn offered his support Tuesday for Democratic Congressional candidate Norman Solomon at a campaign event at McNear's Mystic Theater and Music Hall in Petaluma,CA


Academy award-winning actor Sean Penn made a cameo appearance at a political campaign event on Tuesday in Petaluma, calling North Coast congressional candidate Norman Solomon a “principled man.”

Penn, wearing a open-collared white shirt, dark jacket and slacks, got an ovation from the crowd of about 200 at the Mystic Theater before his five-minute speech.

“Thank you and welcome to the new District 2,” Penn said, proving he is aware of the new nomenclature for the district that now stretches from the Golden Gate Bridge to the Oregon border.

Solomon, a West Marin author and activist, is one of four Democratic candidates seeking the seat to be vacated in 2012 by retiring Rep. Lynn Woolsey, D-Petaluma.

Recalling their joint trip to Iran in 2005, Penn said he and Solomon were at a rally for Iranian women’s rights in Tehran when the police arrived and “out came the batons.”

As women were being pummeled, Penn said he lost track of Solomon, then “I saw Norman, not flinching, standing right beside me” amid the violence.

The actor, a former Marin resident, also cited Solomon’s yen for walking amid the region’s natural beauty, adding: “He really wants it to still be here for our children.”

People paid $10 at the door for the 70-minute event, which was followed by Penn’s attendance at a “private evening” at a Corte Madera home for $250 a person.

Solomon said the latter event was sold out with 80 people expected.

Solomon cited the legacy of Woolsey, Franklin Roosevelt, Cesar Chavez and Martin Luther King in expounding what he describes as his progressive politics.

“I’m tired of Wall Street running Pennsylvania Avenue,” Solomon said, referring to the White House.

Noting President Barack Obama’s appointment of William Daley, a former JP Morgan Chase banker, as his chief of staff, Solomon said: “I call that tone deaf.”

Solomon said he was also “tired of” global warming, excessive military spending and children in hospital emergency rooms because they lack basic health care.

Solomon, who advocated “single-payer health care for all,” said that those who share his views “need to implement our principles, not just talk about them.”

Carol Kimes of Cotati said she was pleasantly surprised to find out how liberal Solomon is on the issues. “He got my vote tonight,” she said outside the theater.

Chloe Karl, a self-described progressive Democrat, said she drove from Lakeport to hear Solomon. “I appreciate him very much,” she said.

A man who gave his name as Walker from Santa Rosa said he has followed Penn and Solomon separately for years and appreciates the actor’s activism.

“I’ve been more of a fan of his politics than his movies,” Walker said.