(CNN) - The handful of Tea Party-backed candidates who've had successful primary wins now face an ideological dilemma - and potential backlash - as they retool for a general election campaign.
Do they stick to their far-right agenda and trust that their conservative credentials will carry them to victory in November, or do they move ahead with a more mainstream, politically expedient message?
"The old, cynical conventional wisdom in politics is that in the Republican Party, you run to the right to win the nomination and then you run to the center to win the general election, and the opposite is true for the Democratic Party," said John Avlon, author of "Wingnuts: How the Lunatic Fringe is Hijacking America."
"What's going to be challenging is that the Tea Partiers ran as ideological warriors attacking the establishment with a refusal to compromise on their principle. ... That makes any pragmatic move to the center a lot more complicated for them to do with any credibility," he said.
Candidates supported by the Tea Party, which is a conservative movement and not a political party, have come under fire from supporters and opponents for moves viewed as plays to the center.