Tea Party activists debate politics vs. policy

"The next step in the growth of the Tea Party movement is finding legislative champions ... that develop a positive set of ideas that actually become real fiscal, conservative policy," he said.

Some Tea Party groups are indicating they'll maintain a permanent campaign, which could cause a headache for the GOP as it looks to incorporate the activists into its party structure.

Rather than simply join the party, activists should continue to "take over" the GOP, according to Tea Party Nation, a Tennessee-based umbrella group that hosted a national conference in Nashville in February.

"As we start looking to 2011, this needs to be the goal of the Tea Party movement. The only way we will effect real change is to start taking over the GOP," the group said in an e-mail to supporters. "This has happened in some areas. In Las Vegas, the Tea Party movement has effectively taken control of the Clark County GOP. This needs to be done at the local level, state level and ultimately at the national level."

The group praised Republican Christine O'Donnell's victory over Rep. Mike Castle in the Delaware Senate GOP primary Tuesday, calling it "another stunning victory for the Tea Party movement."

"As we go into 2011, this battle is far from over," the message continued. "We need to win. In this battle for our political freedom, there is no substitute for victory."