As Republican leaders move to consolidate power and press ahead with their agenda, their hardest task may be fostering solidarity between a Tea Party contingent focused on drawing contrasts with President Obama and an establishment wing anxious to demonstrate that Republicans can be trusted with power.

Senator Ted Cruz, a tea party-backed Texas Republican, said this week that his colleagues must fight Obama at every turn. His priority, he told the Washington Post, is “looking at the abuse of power, the executive abuse, the regulatory abuse, the lawlessness that sadly has pervaded this administration.”

Cruz also wants to dismantle Obama’s health-care law, a mission that would require improbable two-thirds majorities in both chambers to overcome presidential vetoes.

Some Republican leaders also say an all-out confrontation with Democrats is a one-way ticket back to the minority.

“Republicans will make a huge mistake if they believe that tonight’s victories indicate a mandate for a return to trickle-down economics and political witch hunts,” said South Carolina Democratic Party Chairman Jaime Harrison on Tuesday. “The party of ‘no’ must now lead, and if they don’t then the 2016 political pendulum will swing back so hard that they will have a bad case of whiplash.”

– Bloomberg News