Pelosi allies rage over tactics of opponents

House Minority Leader Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiPelosi slated to deliver remarks during panel hearing on poverty The DNC's climate problems run deep Cracks form in Democratic dam against impeachment 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 FrankelOvernight Health Care — Presented by PCMA — Senators unveil sweeping bipartisan health care package | House lawmakers float Medicare pricing reforms | Dems offer bill to guarantee abortion access Republicans amp up attacks on Tlaib's Holocaust comments Overnight Health Care: Biden backs Medicare buy-in | New warnings as measles cases surpass record | House Dems propose M to study gun violence prevention 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 SchakowskyOmar blasts Trump's comment about accepting foreign campaign dirt as 'un-American' House Dem cites transgender grandson in voting for Equality Act Dems plan 12-hour marathon Mueller report reading at Capitol 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 RaskinWarren introduces universal child care legislation Warren introduces universal child care legislation Dem committees win new powers to investigate Trump 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 LowenthalTrump administration signals support for uranium mining that could touch Grand Canyon Trump administration signals support for uranium mining that could touch Grand Canyon Overnight Energy: Inslee says DNC won't hold climate debate | Democrats fear Trump opening door to mining in Grand Canyon | Interior pick gets surprising support from greens | Ocasio-Cortez says effective climate plan needs T 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 RiceDemocrat offers measure to prevent lawmakers from sleeping in their offices Democrat offers measure to prevent lawmakers from sleeping in their offices Hillicon Valley: Pelosi blasts Facebook for not taking down doctored video | Democrats push election security after Mueller warning | Critics dismiss FCC report on broadband access | Uber to ban passengers with low ratings 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 FudgeFederal employees turn their backs on Agriculture secretary after relocation plans announced Federal employees turn their backs on Agriculture secretary after relocation plans announced Lawmakers clash after Dem reads letter on House floor calling Trump supporters 'racist,' 'dumb' 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 admin ending legal aid, English classes for migrant children in US shelters Brazilian firm draws scrutiny on Trump farm aid Watchdog: DeVos used personal emails for work in 'limited' cases MORE (D-Conn.) and Maxine WatersMaxine Moore WatersHillicon Valley: Facebook unveils new cryptocurrency | Waters wants company to halt plans | Democrats look to force votes on election security | Advertisers partner with tech giants on 'digital safety' | House GOP unveils cyber agenda On The Money: Trade chief defends Trump tariffs before skeptical Congress | Kudlow denies plan to demote Fed chief | Waters asks Facebook to halt cryptocurrency project On The Money: Trade chief defends Trump tariffs before skeptical Congress | Kudlow denies plan to demote Fed chief | Waters asks Facebook to halt cryptocurrency project 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 McCarthyCongressional leaders, White House officials to meet Wednesday on spending Congressional leaders, White House officials to meet Wednesday on spending The Congressional Award — a beacon of hope  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 BoehnerTed Cruz, AOC have it right on banning former members of Congress from becoming lobbyists Ted Cruz, AOC have it right on banning former members of Congress from becoming lobbyists Rep. Amash stokes talk of campaign against Trump 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.