Epilogue: Florida NOW hires failed candidate Shawna Vercher — to train other candidates

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Not too long ago, Democrat Shawna Vercher was a failed candidate for the Florida House who just suffered a humiliating primary loss.

What a difference a few weeks can make.

Now, in a surprising career move, Vercher will be raising funds and training other female candidates on behalf of the local branch of Florida NOW (National Organization for Women).

When the former talk show host launched her District 67 campaign, it was with high hopes and strong fundraising. At least in relation to her Democratic opponents.

She also enjoyed a major endorsement early in the campaign from Florida NOW, the state’s leading organization for women.

Even with that solid start, her campaign quickly soured once voters learned more about Vercher’s background – dubious finances, a lost lawsuit leading to bankruptcy and suspicious claims of her role in the 2008 Obama campaign.

By the primaries, enthusiasm for Vercher cooled. Although she had been the better-funded candidate, Vercher was trounced by Democrat Steve Sarnoff, who will face Republican Chris Latvala In two weeks.

Vercher’s problematic background may have curtailed her political ambitions, but it has not stopped Florida NOW from bringing her on — as a fundraiser and “trainer” for progressive candidates.

It might take a moment for that to sink in …

Florida NOW just hired Vercher — an exceedingly troubled candidate (and “documented con artist,” some say) who only weeks before lost a seemingly slam-dunk primary to a relative unknown. And she will run campaigns, of all things.

Vercher will become the chosen one — along with Toni Von Pelt, her campaign manager — to help Florida NOW run rival Democratic women’s group Ruth’s List “out of business.”

One reason for this eyebrow-raising appointment is the bad blood brewing between Florida NOW and Ellis Robinson, Ruth’s List Florida founder and CEO.

Earlier this year, Robinson and her powerful advocacy group failed to support Vercher’s candidacy, as well as that of liberal state Sen. Nan Rich in her Democratic gubernatorial primary bid against former Republican Gov. Charlie Crist.

It was a snub that led to Florida NOW’s deal with Vercher — questionable campaigning skills and all — where she will receive a percentage of all the money she raises, while “training” other female candidates.

Perhaps the training will be what NOT to do in a campaign, where Vercher has most of her experience.

Standing firm behind progressive principles is one thing – certainly, a noble goal — but launching a political vendetta over endorsements (or the lack thereof) is only petty and shallow.

Making it worse is hiring someone of Vercher’s spotted reputation, which only opens Florida NOW to further ridicule, as well as future losses at the ballot box.

An email to NOW Florida President Donna Slutiak, asking for clarification of Vercher’s new role, has so far gone unanswered.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.