It’s been nearly a week since the Republican midterm election wave—(see also, tsunami, deluge, shellacking, take your pick)—so I think it’s appropriate to reflect on some key House races we’ve been covering since the summer.

First up is Carlos Curbelos’s successful flipping of Florida’s 26th district out of the hands of Democrat Joe Garcia, a tried-and-true liberal Democrat and right-hand man to the Obama-Pelosi-Reid political agenda. Curbelos is easily described as a moderate Republican whose stance on immigration in particular is a little questionable, but overall seems to be on board with the minimize-government-maximize-freedom conservative brand.

Here’s an excerpt from Curbelo’s victory speech:

“We are celebrating an electoral victory, but we cannot forget that the American people remain frustrated and disillusioned with their government. Here in our community, and throughout the country, Americans are seeking leaders who will put the cause of a stronger, greater nation before their personal political interests.”

This GOP pickup was key considering that in 2012 the district flipped in the opposite direction. The original GOP House Rep. for FL26, David Rivera, was defeated by Garcia in 2012 while he was in the midst of a campaign finance scandal.

Curbelos surged from a unknown Miami-Dade School Board Member in a lean Democrat district to clinching 51.50% of the district’s votes. Of course, the question is whether Curbelos won this election or whether Garcia simply lost, particularly because of his affiliation with President Obama.

I think the Obama factor, in basically all of the 2014 midterm races, did not make any particular candidate win or lose. Rather, what it did for Democrat incumbents like Garcia was remove the incumbent-advantage and place them on level playing field with GOP contenders like Curbelos. Even if just barely by fewer than 5,000 votes out of 161,000 cast, Curbelos genuinely won this election.

Interestingly, Garcia won the majority of votes in the Florida Keys, which is to say that the Hispanics in southwest Miami-Dade are the ones whose votes propelled Curbelos into office.

Garcia, according to the Miami Herald, blamed his loss on “savage” spending from outside political groups. The Herald reported that of the $14 million spent in this race, $9 million came from outside sources, and $5.5 million of that figure was used against Garcia.  Savage or not, it was clearly Garcia’s policy stances, his notable gaffes while in office, and his former campaign manager’s criminal indictments for voter fraud and tampering that played a role in his downfall.

Over the next two years I’ll be following Mr. Curbelos’s activity and voting record in Congress. Though I am pleased he ousted Garcia, the real test comes after his swearing-in, where  the pressure to conform to politics-as-usual will clash with true conservative principles. The future of the GOP depends on the likes of Curbelos resisting the pressure to conform, and instead to stand above special interests, the drive-by media, and the seductiveness of big government.