How Sanford Pulled Off His Shock Victory

And what it means for the GOP ... and Anthony Weiner

By Ruth Brown,  Newser Staff

Posted May 8, 2013 6:48 AM CDT | Updated May 8, 2013 7:40 AM CDT

(Newser) – Mark Sanford just pulled off a comeback that would make even Robert Downey Jr. envious—from disgrace and national laughing stock four years ago to winning back his former South Carolina House seat last night, despite pundits predicting a win for opponent Elizabeth Colbert Busch. How did he do it and what does it all mean? The press picks over the bones:

  • Sanford clinched the victory thanks to his mastery of retail politics, says Politico. He drove a van up and down the South Carolina coastline to reintroduce himself to voters, attend public events, and preach about a "God of second chances."

  • Meanwhile, Colbert Busch got too cocky, running only defense and no offense, writes the Daily Beast. She only agreed to one debate and made few campaign stops. "The Colbert Busch team ran like their party won 58-40 last November," says a local commentator.
  • But perhaps the real loser in this election was the rest of the Republican Party, which wrote Sanford off and refused him financial support, observes Time. It'll sure make for one awkward swearing-in ceremony with the previously not-so-supportive John Boehner, adds the Hill.
  • One unexpected winner? Anthony Wiener, who may use Sanford's redemption as inspiration for his rumored run in this year's New York City mayoral race, writes the Washington Post.

Former South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford arrives to give his victory speech on Tuesday, May 7, 2013. Sanford won back his old congressional seat in the state's 1st District in a special election.   (AP Photo/Rainier Ehrhardt)
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