Who has defined the tea party as being a faction of the Republican Party? Its actions have harmed the GOP. The tea partyers are running primary opponents against what they consider Republicans interested in actually governing (moderates, not radicals) and that does not seem a very smart maneuver to help their “party” since a challenge divides time and money from the general election as well as splits their party’s loyalty.
The tea party is demonstrating an actual disdain for Republicans and has a much different philosophy and ideology from the more storied GOP. The tea party is a third party kidnapping a major party and repeatedly dividing the country as well as its adopted party. Why are old-line Republicans of Eisenhower, Nixon and Reagan allowing this?
Let the tea party run as a third party, radical as it is, and see how many actually get elected without the robe of the Republican Party.