Another leadership test for Pelosi, who's weathered many

But some rank-and-file House Democrats scoffed at such explanations and raised questions about Pelosi's continued leadership. Nor have they identified a challenger.

In over a decade leading House Democrats, into the majority and out again, Pelosi has beaten back all comers, including last fall when Democratic Rep. Tim Ryan of OH ran against her. Ryan fell well short but garnered dozens of votes, enough to underscore dissatisfaction with Pelosi and with her aging leadership team that has left promising young Democrats with few places to rise. Most notable was the appearance of Louisiana Rep. Cedric Richmond, the chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus.

"If we take back the House in 2018 then I think she'd stay leader", said Rep. Ruben Gallego, D-Ariz. He emphasized that the group "was a diverse group from an ideological, geographic and ethnic standpoint".

A dozen or so House Democrats want Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi to go after a dispiriting loss in a Georgia House election.

Those seeking a change, including Ohio Democrat Tim Ryan, say Pelosi energizes the Republican base.

But Pelosi continues to command great loyalty from many in the House, and she insisted her position was not in jeopardy.

"I think that she's a tremendous leader of our caucus, with the kind of strategic talent and experience that we really need to succeed in the minority and particularly when we don't control the House or Senate", said Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif.

Rice's sentiment was echoed by other House Democrats in recent months including Reps.

That reality was the subtext for Pelosi's taunting remarks Thursday in which she cast her Democratic critics as hungry for attention rather than serious about ousting her. "(Tom) Daschle was a target, Tip O'Neill was a target", Pelosi said. I love the arena. "But I think I'm worth the trouble, quite frankly". Pelosi has helped engineer budget deals, an overhaul of the nation's health care law and an economic stimulus during her years as a leader.

Rice appeared on MSNBC's Morning Joe on Thursday where she was asked about her call a day earlier for Pelosi to step aside, in the wake of a disappointing election loss for Democrats in Georgia this week.

But it's also clear that many Democrats in the House, if not the large majority, don't see it that way.

"Usually they go after the most effective leaders because they want to diminish the opportunity that we have", Pelosi said.

There are, though, reasons to believe Pelosi poses a unique political problem for Democrats. It comes at a cost: Pelosi is Republicans' biggest fundraising star, too. The GOP has targeted Pelosi in House races nationally, most recently in the Georgia special election won by a Republican.

Democrats came close but still lost in special elections in Kansas, Montana, Georgia and SC. Among those: Adding No. 2 roles to be filled by newer members on every House standing committee and adding six regional vice chairs to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

Pelosi said that would be fine with her.

None of that suggests that Pelosi faces an immediate challenge to her leadership.

When the top post among House Democrats might open up, though, Pelosi hasn't said.