I seriously doubt that Tea Party Republicans will be in any way distinctive from "regular" Republicans...Every class of "insurgent" Republicans eventually falls in line with the leadership, and this group will do the same.In fact, there's a long history of insurgent Republicans, especially in the House, deciding that the current leadership is too moderate and too quick to compromise, and booting them out.
- You probably know that there were two Republican Houses during the New Deal era (Truman's punching bag in 1947-1948, and one for Ike in 1953-1954). The Speaker, and then Minority Leader, was Joe Martin. Republicans jettisoned him for Charles Halleck in 1958.
- Halleck lasted until 1964, when younger Republicans booted him and installed Gerald Ford.
- Ford, of course, was plucked out of the House for bigger and better things. He was succeeded by Arizonan John Rhodes, who held the job until 1981. I don't know the story of the next transition, but Bob Michel took over then while Rhodes served one more term.
- Michel was able to retire as Minority Leader -- but it was pretty clear that it was not entirely voluntary. Had he decided to stay in Congress, Newt Gingrich would certainly have challenged Michel, and almost certainly have defeated him. Even before he was ready for a leadership challenge, Newt spent over a decade organizing conservative Members to fight what they saw as GOP accomodationist tactics.
- Newt Gingrich was then promptly tagged as too willing to compromise with Bill Clinton, sparking a coup attempt in his first term as Speaker. While there were other issues involved in his eventual demise, part of it was certainly that he wasn't quite trusted as a "real" conservative.
- And Denny Hastert chose not to seek re-election as GOP leader after the 2006 elections...I don't remember the reporting on this, but at the very least I don't think there were a lot of calls for him to stick around.
Now, I think that Bouie is correct to note that a lot of the supposed Tea Party candidates are actually experienced pols (and Boris Shor reports that there may be some genuine moderates elected to the Republican conference, too). But there are going to be quite a few Republicans on the Hill, especially in the House, who will have no intention of going along to get along. Should John Boehner be Speaker (and I don't expect a leadership challenge in November, but this will apply to any GOP Speaker in 2011), I expect him to face severe constraints from conservatives who want confrontation, not compromise, and who may be unwilling to deliver their votes for whatever the leadership says is necessary. And while I think that Boehner's a pretty good pol, I wouldn't be surprised at all if he winds up tossed aside relatively quickly.