I guess congratulations are in order to Mark Sanford for defeating Stephen Colbert's sister in a special congressional election in South Carolina this week. But I have to wonder if this teaches Republicans the wrong lesson.
In recent years, the GOP has a record of nominating some true losers--people who were not properly vetted and showed it by saying stupid things, or people who were too radical to begin with, or had personal flaws that seriously hurt their chances. Both sides have this dynamic, of course--the party faithful, who often decide the nominee, want someone more extreme than plays well with the electorate at large--but Republicans have been abusing this privilege of late. It's arguable they'd have control of the Senate if they'd have been more careful.
So now he's won. Should Republicans whoop it up and say this proves such considerations don't matter? Obviously not, since this is a heavily Republican district, and Sanford almost lost it. He had to nationalize the race--make it against Nancy Pelosi--to remind the voters his party registration was more important than his personal problems. Even then, his margin of victory in the district was only half that of Mitt Romney's in the 2012 presidential race.
Some thought this race might be a harbinger for 2014. And if Republican take it as a lesson that they can still play fast and loose with their nominees, it very well might be.