The stunning Texas victory of Ted Cruz, a young Tea Party-backed Republican over an establishment candidate vying for a Senate seat, has already so emboldened the insurgent conservative movement that activists are warning Mitt Romney he had better get on board.
"These guys [newly elected Tea Party candidates]" are going to force Romney to the right," said Andrea Shell, a spokeswoman for Tea Party group Freedom Works. "That is our entire mission."
Cruz won the Texas Republican primary Tuesday night. In Texas, winning the Republican nomination is a virtual lock on a Senate election.
His victory is the latest in a string of Tea Party candidates to tap into anti-establishment frustration within the Republican Party and overcome the steep odds and deep pockets of more mainstream candidates.
Riding a wave of recent successes in the House and now also the Senate, Tea Party groups are eyeing the possible control of both chambers, a prospect, they say, would force Romney, were he to win the presidential election in November, "to move to the right."
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