(CNN) – If Republicans neglect the concerns of Tea Party activists, the group could break off to form a third party as early as 2012, warned Republican Senator John Thune.
Thune, who is considering a presidential run, said if Republicans manage to take back the Congress next month, they will have to work quickly to deliver results to voters.
"If we do not govern according to our principles and if we don't follow through on the things that we say we're going to do, I think the Tea Party–I think there will be a third party in this country," Thune said on C-SPAN Newsmakers.
He applauded Tea Party candidates running for office this year as energetic and driven and said their concerns coincide "with what many of us who are there want to see done."
But the chairman of the Republican Policy Committee said the Senate would be very different considering "many of the candidates that are running on both sides this year are people who maybe don't have long resumes or experience in politics or government ... but are very motivated."
"We're going to have a lot of new people. And a lot of the people who got to the Senate in many cases ran campaigns that were about a very–a very distinct agenda," Thune said. "There are going to be a lot of new faces and probably some pretty strongly-held views. And we'll see how that works."
He tamped down expectations for a Republican wave election in November, saying Democrats are fighting hard.
"I do think that you can get expectations really high, and I hope that those expectations can be met," he said. "I think it's a longer shot in the Senate."
Thune hinted he would decide about a presidential run by early 2011 and said the results of the midterm elections could affect the political landscape for his party.