Tea Party Luminaries Angle for Influence in New GOP Order

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"Bachmann is a prototypical congressional show horse, trying to increase her media visibility to push her agenda," said Steven Schier, a political scientist at Carleton College. "Her style isn't workhorse, legislative style, and her flamboyancy puts a ceiling on her support, even though she's from a conservative district."

Texas Congressman Jeb Hensarling, perhaps equally as conservative as Bachmann but less contentious, is seen as the front-runner for the post of House Republican Conference Chair.

2010 Election Results: Tea Party Winners and Losers

Meanwhile, DeMint, who has cultivated a more cautious public persona than Bachmann, has weathered intraparty criticism for supporting anti-establishment candidates like Christine O'Donnell and Sharron Angle in the primaries instead of more mainstream candidates whom party leaders deemed more electable. Losses by O'Donnell and Angle in the general election cost Republicans control of the Senate, the critics say.

He also faces tepid support within the GOP for some of his more controversial policies, including an outright ban on earmarks.

Still, whether or not Bachmann and DeMint assume official leadership roles, the enthusiastic support they receive from thousands of Tea Party faithful will likely give them currency to keep agitating the party establishment in the years ahead.

"The Tea Party [is] responsible for just about every Republican who was elected around the country," DeMint said Sunday. "We saw candidates that were supported by a Tea Party in a new active wave of citizens, change the face of the Senate. ... This is a huge change for the Republican Party. And I think it's going to be very positive for our country."

ABC News' Michael Falcone, Sherisse Pham, Jennifer Schlesinger, Jared Pliner, Maya Srikrishnan, and Josh Goldstein contributed to this report.

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