“They don‘t necessarily want to be Republicans,” DeMint said. “If Republicans want to embrace the ideas of constitutional government and balanced budget, then they are fine with Republicans carrying the message and they will get behind them.

“But I don‘t think that most Tea Party people just want to get merged with the Republican Party. The jury is still out if … you are going to see the emergence of a third party with a lot of libertarian themes.”

Sam DeMarco, 54, of North Fayette, chairman of Western Pennsylvania Veterans and Patriots United, a Tea Party organization with 500 members, said he thinks the movement has reached a crossroads.

“We originally made the decision to not form a third party and stick with the Republicans because we understood that would almost guarantee that (Democratic candidates) would win,” he said. “However, as the fiscal cliff negotiations continue and Washington Republicans are beginning to cave, that may become an option.”