Exclusive: GOP Recruits Potted Plant to Challenge Casey in 2012
PoliticsPA has just learned that party officials and National Republican Senatorial Committee representatives have successfully recruited a Montgomery County rhododendron to challenge first-term Senator Bob Casey.
“This plant has deep roots in Pennsylvania,” said NRSC Chairman Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas). “After five years of Senator Casey’s no-growth agenda, Pennsylvania is ready to turn over a new leaf.”
PA GOP Chairman Rob Gleason praised the plant, saying it represents the core values of the Republican party.
“This plant knows what it takes to grow in a tough economy, without government subsidies or bale-outs.”
“With the help of Senator Casey, President Obama has done everything he can to grow this country into a nursery state,” Gleason added. “It’s time for Casey to reap what he’s sown.”
The plant, an American Rhododendron of species Rhododendron maximum in the Ericaceae family, is well known as a striking and aesthetically pleasing feature of mesic southern Appalachian forests. This species affords protection to steep watersheds and shelter for wildlife. The wood is very hard and is occasionally used for specialty wood products.
The NRSC released an internal poll showing the plant in a statistical dead heat with Casey, trailing 43 to 39 percent among voters who’ve formed an opinion.
“To win in 2012, Republicans need a challenger that can compete with Casey’s legendary charisma,” said veteran Franklin and Marshall pollster Terry Madonna. “It looks like they’ve found their candidate.”
The plant was grown in a Montgomery County garden, which insiders say gives it an edge in the swing areas of the Philadelphia suburbs.
“Republicans have found a candidate that can put into play some traditional Democratic voting blocs such as environmentalists,” said GOP consultant Charlie Gerow. “I mean, come on. It’s a plant. You can’t get much more green than that.”
Democrats on the other hand, were quick to criticize the plant.
“Look at the record,” said Casey spokesman Larry Smar. “In his first five years in office, Senator Casey has been a tireless fighter for all species of rhododendron; indeed all types of shrubbery.”
Smar pointed to Casey’s leadership in passing the $105 billion SHRUB initiative (Sustainable Horticulture Renewing Urban Blight), the Senator’s marquee issue which was included in the federal stimulus plan.
“Token candidates like this plant are a hollow effort by Republicans to green-wash their party. I challenge the GOP to name one thing that this plant would add to the office, besides decoration.”
“For all its prized qualities as a naturally occurring component of the landscape or as plantings in residential and commercial landscaping, rhododendron can have an inhibitory effect on regeneration of other plant species,” added PA Democratic Party Communications Director Mark Nicastre. “Just look at it’s Wikipedia page. Rhododendron is associated with reduced woody and herbaceous seedling abundance throughout its range, and hence poses a serious impediment to the production of wood products.”
Indeed, it may be too soon to tell whether the potted plant will even earn the GOP nomination. Party officials insist that the plant is American rhododendron, a species native to PA, but some conservatives and Tea Party activists aren’t convinced.
“We already have a President with an indeterminate birth status. Now establishment Republicans want us to believe they’ve recruited Rhododendron maximum for this office,” said former State Rep. and gubernatorial candidate Sam Rohrer, who is strongly affiliated with the PA Tea Party. “I’m no botanist, but this plant looks an awful lot like Rhododendron ponticum, which we all know is native to southern Europe and western Asia.”
“I think Pennsylvanians deserve to see a copy of this plant’s family tree from a state-certified greenhouse.”