Our Views: First scalp for the GOP

The Republicans got the first scalp in the 2014 national campaign, and the tribe hopes to win more in the fall when members of the U.S. House and a couple of dozen Senate seats are up for grabs.

The special election in Florida’s 13th District, basically the St. Petersburg/Tampa suburbs of Pinellas County, was hotly contested by both parties and with a flood of outside money, the new bane of political candidates of both parties.

Republican David Jolly narrowly won, in part because of the service of his late boss, U.S. Rep. Bill Young, who had represented the area since 1970. Democrats had a strong candidate in former state official Alex Sink, but the GOP nevertheless won.

The analysts may call it a referendum on the problems of Obamacare, although both candidates stressed — as Young did for decades — service first for the district and national issues second.

If there’s a number that ought to be scary, though, it is $9 million.

In addition to the approximately $2.5 million spent by the two campaigns, the party committees and outside groups dished out more than $9 million to run TV and radio ads, other paid media and direct mail, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, which monitors outside spending. For one seat in the 435-member House.

That kind of flood of advertising has been unleashed by looser and looser rules over the past decade. We’ve already seen some of that in Louisiana, with conservative groups — rarely with any donors or even links to Louisiana — attacking incumbent Senate Democrat Mary Landrieu.

If Florida’s 13th is the harbinger of all-Obamacare campaigns in the fall, that’s one thing. But the gusher of campaign money also is something to think about.