But Democrats don't necessarily need her or anyone to play the role of a former occupant of the seat Handel just won, Newt Gingrich, who led the Republican takeover of the House in 1994 with his Contract for America.
The response from some is that it better be.
In special elections for House seats vacated by Republicans who wound up in President Donald Trump's Cabinet, Democrats went 0-for-4 losing races in Georgia, Montana, South Carolina and Kansas. They must pick up 24 seats to do so.
She also dismissed the notion that the Republicans' longtime tactic to hold her up as a partisan lightening rod drags down public opinion about fellow congressional Democrats and candidates.
In a press conference Thursday, Pelosi said she's proud of the unity within her party and the leverage it has given her in various negotiations. "I thrive on competition", she said, later adding: "I think I'm worth the trouble".
Frustrated Democrats pondered the party's future and questioned its campaign messaging on Wednesday after a demoralizing defeat in a Georgia congressional race widely seen as a referendum on President Donald Trump's young administration. The Democrat's campaign slogan was "Make Trump Furious", suggesting angry voters should back the Ossoff campaign if they wanted to send a message to the White House. Under Pelosi's watch, the party has suffered two overwhelming midterm election losses as well as the mother of all upsets in last year's presidential election. They just need to show that the party has answers for the economic anxiety gripping middle class and working class voters across the country.
When asked on NBC about possible leadership changes, Democrat Bill Pascrell of New Jersey replied, "We're always reviewing that, believe me".
In the record-breaking special election in Georgia's 6th Congressional District, Republicans routinely featured Pelosi in TV ads and mailers attacking Democratic candidate Jon Ossof - seeking to paint him as a liberal whose values were more in touch with Pelosi's hometown of San Francisco than suburban Atlanta. The ads were successful; Democrats lost all four races.
"I don't know if there is a solution in the short term", Ryan said.
Pelosi didn't give names when she referred to those who want her to step aside, but she called out those chose to go on television to criticize her, saying "have your fun". "I am a master legislator".
She continues to command a great degree of loyalty from many House Democrats, and allies dismissed the idea that her position was in any kind of jeopardy. "And in our state and for me, marriage is between one man and one woman", Handel said.
"She's easy to demonize".
The Georgia contest was the most expensive House race in history, and the GOP dusted off the same playbook it has used effectively since the Republican wave of 2010: Hammering Democratic candidates with a relentlessly anti-Pelosi message that drives out the conservative base.