Pelosi allies rage over tactics of opponents

House Minority Leader Nancy PelosiNancy Patricia D'Alesandro PelosiKids confront Feinstein over Green New Deal Can progressives govern? Dems plan hearing on emergency declaration's impact on military MORE's allies say they are ready to go to war with the small-but-vocal group of young Democratic insurgents who want to topple the Speaker-in-waiting.

Pelosi's foes are threatening to deny her the 218 votes needed on the House floor to be Speaker, forcing multiple rounds of voting until Democrats elect a new leader.

But some Pelosi loyalists — frustrated by the “Never Nancys” dominating headlines on Capitol Hill — are now vowing to use the same guerilla tactics to block the ascension of any other candidate not named Nancy Pelosi.

“Two can play the game. They’re going to get 20 insurgents, then I’ll get 20 insurgents” to block their candidate, Rep. Lois FrankelLois Jane FrankelDems call on Trump to fire Acosta Lawmakers wear white to State of the Union to show solidarity with women Trump will give State of Union to sea of opponents MORE (D-Fla.), a staunch Pelosi ally, told The Hill. “I can find 20 rebels too that can deny anybody.”

Pelosi’s closest supporters have already jumped headfirst into the contest, making calls and pressing members to get on board following Democrats' sweeping midterm victories.

Rep. Jan SchakowskyJanice (Jan) Danoff SchakowskyOvernight Health Care — Presented by National Taxpayers Union — Trump, Dems open drug price talks | FDA warns against infusing young people's blood | Facebook under scrutiny over health data | Harris says Medicare for all isn't socialism Hillicon Valley: Kremlin seeks more control over Russian internet | Huawei CEO denies links to Chinese government | Facebook accused of exposing health data | Harris calls for paper ballots | Twitter updates ad rules ahead of EU election Patients, health data experts accuse Facebook of exposing personal info MORE (D-Ill.) said that, privately, Pelosi allies are talking to other members of their states, “making it clear within their own delegations what the costs are of … not cooperating.” Publicly, she said, they’re emphasizing the fact that the insurgents still have no one to challenge Pelosi.

“Women are really angry about this,” said Schakowsky, noting that many grassroots groups — many of them generous Democratic donors — are up in arms. “These individuals who are fighting us have a price to pay,” she said.

But Schakowsky said while Pelosi has been strategic, focused and calm, “I’m furious — I’m just furious.”

Pelosi, a master whip and procedural tactician, has a number of tools at her disposal to lure — or pressure — waffling Democrats, allies said.

Once the Pelosi-aligned Steering Committee is constituted after Thanksgiving, Pelosi will have the power to dole out or deny plum committee assignments to freshman lawmakers. As Speaker, she would also have the ability to appoint them to special committees, and approve or deny official overseas trips, known as CODELs.

“There is one outcome here: Nancy Pelosi is going to be Speaker of the House,” said Rep. Jamie RaskinJamin (Jamie) Ben RaskinGaming executive calls Justice Department's opinion on Wire Act 'perplexing' Trump's acting attorney general tells Democrat his time is up in testy hearing Dems accused of MeToo hypocrisy in Virginia MORE (D-Md.).

“There is no race. I don’t care what noise there is out there. We won by the largest margin of Democrats since 1974. And she is our leader,” added Pelosi's fellow Californian Rep. Alan LowenthalAlan Stuart LowenthalOvernight Energy: Court rules for Trump in environmental case over border wall | House bill would stop Alaska refuge drilling | Ads target Dems over Green New Deal Lawmakers introduce bill to ban drilling in Alaska wildlife refuge Overnight Energy: Wheeler weathers climate criticism at confirmation hearing | Dems want Interior to stop drilling work during shutdown | 2018 was hottest year for oceans MORE. “We should be celebrating the fact that Pelosi led us to the Promised Land.”

Pelosi is expected to easily win the Nov. 28 internal election for Speaker in the Democratic Caucus, where she needs only a simple majority of her roughly 230 Democratic colleagues. But to be elected Speaker on the House floor on Jan. 3, Pelosi will need at least 218 votes — more than half of the entire 435 House members and a much higher threshold than the internal caucus vote.

A handful of races across the country are still too close to call, so the exact magic number that Pelosi needs is unclear. But anti-Pelosi rebels say there are at least 17 Democrats committed to banding together and blocking her on the House floor, a move that would throw the Speaker’s race into absolute chaos.

“This is a fight and she’s a very worthy opponent, but it’s time,” said one of those rebels, Rep. Kathleen RiceKathleen Maura RiceDem lawmakers to open probe into ‘complex web of relationships’ between NRA, Russia McCarthy, allies retaliate against Freedom Caucus leader How Pelosi is punishing some critics while rewarding others MORE (D-N.Y.).

Rice and other Pelosi critics are downplaying the absence of a challenger, arguing their real goal is to demonstrate that Pelosi lacks the votes she needs on the floor, thereby forcing her to step out of the race altogether. At that point, a new crop of new members — lawmakers reluctant to challenge Pelosi head on — could jump into the contest.

“There’s a big talking point that you can’t beat somebody with nobody,” Rice said. “The first thing is we have to show that the leader cannot get 218, which she won’t be able to. And I think you’re going to see people emerge.”

Pelosi’s allies, meanwhile, have a warning to the detractors.

“Nancy Pelosi is not going to drop out.,” said Schakowsky.

Rep. Marcia FudgeMarcia Louise FudgeCongressional Black Caucus faces tough decision on Harris, Booker Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee to step down as CBC Foundation chair amid lawsuit Reporter says to expect Capitol Hill to take action on North Carolina's 9th District MORE (D-Ohio), the former head of the Congressional Black Caucus, has floated the idea of running for the Speaker spot. But it is unclear if her strategy would be to challenge Pelosi directly, or jump into the race only if Pelosi steps down.

Other Pelosi allies, including Reps. Rosa DeLauroRosa Luisa DeLauroTrump's HHS declines to provide witnesses for hearing on family separations Congress needs to bring family and medical leave policies into the 21st century Push for paid family leave heats up ahead of 2020 MORE (D-Conn.) and Maxine WatersMaxine Moore WatersDems press Barr to make Mueller report public Private insurance plays a critical part in home mortgage ecosystem On The Money: Lawmakers closing in on border deal | Dems build case for Trump tax returns | Trump, Xi won't meet before trade deadline | Waters in talks with Mnuchin for testimony MORE (D-Calif.), said the fight will naturally fizzle out because Pelosi will secure the support she needs.

“She is a master counter of votes,” DeLauro said. “She will be the Speaker.”

Pelosi herself is similarly bullish. On Thursday, during her first press conference since the midterms, she said she has the votes — today — to win the floor vote.

“I have overwhelming support within my caucus to be Speaker of the House,” she said.

Another Democratic lawmaker said he is on the fence about backing Pelosi but added that the insurgents’ plan to take down Pelosi with no Plan B is angering many members.

“The majority of the caucus is getting kind of antsy that the dissidents’ plan is to tank one person’s chances on the House and open it up to a free for all. It appears to some to be a nuclear option,” the Democratic lawmaker said.

“It would basically doom the caucus to minority status for the next Congress on the first vote, because [Minority Leader] Kevin McCarthyKevin Owen McCarthySteve King says he will run again in 2020: 'I have nothing to apologize for' Steve King spins GOP punishment into political weapon Steve King asks for Congressional Record correction over white supremacist quote MORE would be the top vote getter for multiple ballots.”

That nuclear strategy is straight out of the playbook of the House Freedom Caucus, the band of conservative bomb-throwers who plotted multiple coups against Speaker John BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerEx-GOP lawmaker joins marijuana trade group Crowley, Shuster moving to K Street On unilateral executive action, Mitch McConnell was right — in 2014 MORE (R-Ohio) and eventually forced him out of the top job in 2015.

“Our caucus does not tolerate or embrace Tea Party tactics. That will not work with our members,” said a senior Democratic aide.

Melanie Zanona contributed.