By GUY KOVNER
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
Hollywood stardust, rarely seen in North Coast politics, will be sprinkled on congressional candidate Norman Solomon’s campaign on Tuesday in Petaluma.
Sean Penn, the Oscar-winning actor and political activist, will lend his A-list celebrity aura to Solomon at a $10-at-the-door campaign event at the Mystic Theatre, followed by a “private evening” at a Corte Madera home at $250 a pop.
For details on both events, check the solomonforcongress.com website.
Solomon and Assemblyman Jared Huffman, D-San Rafael, are considered the leading contenders for retiring Rep. Lynn Woolsey’s seat.
The Solomon-Penn link is more than a fleeting embrace for publicity’s sake, dating to long before the current campaign.
“We share basic humanitarian values,” Solomon said, noting Penn’s well-publicized record of anti-war protest and social action, including operation of a tent camp in earthquake-ravaged Haiti.
Solomon, a West Marin political activist and author, recruited Penn — whom he had not previously met — for the second of Solomon’s three trips to Iraq prior to the U.S.-led invasion in 2003.
No sooner had their arrival in Baghdad in December 2002 been revealed than reporters started calling.
“We were deluged,” Solomon said, admitting that the media magnet was not him but the actor who was described by his former wife, Madonna, as “the coolest guy in the universe.”
Solomon subsequently visited Penn’s former Marin home, and the two also traveled to Iran and joined the protest against Stanley Tookie Williams’ execution at San Quentin Prison, both in 2005.
They are fellow travelers in a broader sense. Solomon, who identifies himself as a Woolsey-like progressive, said he considers Penn, who had politically charged roles in “Dead Man Walking” and “Milk,” in the same leftist fold.
But it’s up to Penn to classify himself: “I never speak for him,” Solomon said.
You can reach Staff Writer Guy Kovner at 521-5457 or email@example.com.