Pelosi’s Nov. 14 decision to stay left the top ranks in place, stranding three would-be leaders — Van Hollen, Wasserman Schultz and current Caucus Chairman John B. Larson of Connecticut — without obvious places to move up to.

That dynamic leaves Van Hollen and Wasserman Schultz, if they want to make future bids to move up the ranks, in the position of burnishing their leadership bona fides outside the formal leadership structure. Both are fixtures on cable television and loyal foot soldiers of the party, but they would still lack the formal leadership staff and perks that come with being leader, whip or the like.

Former Rep. David E. Bonior of Michigan, once minority whip, said Wasserman Schultz did “extraordinarily” well as Democratic National Committee chairwoman. “She is tenacious. You can just see it in her body language,” Bonior said.