Secretly Taped Audio Reveals Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer Pressuring Progressive Candidate To Leave Race

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Via Lee Fang of The Intercept: Progressive Democratic Congressional candidate Levi Tillemann secretly recorded this conversation he had with #2 House Democrat Steny Hoyer, where the minority whip urged Tillemann to pull out of the primary for Colorado's sixth district and support the party choice.

Progressive candidate Levi Tillemann met with Congressman Steny Hoyer, the No. 2 Democrat in the House of Representatives, to make the case that the party should stay neutral in the Colorado 6th district primary and that he had a more plausible path to victory than the same centrism that the Republican incumbent had already beaten repeatedly.

Hoyer, however, had his own message he wanted to convey: Tillemann should drop out.



In a frank and wide-ranging conversation, Hoyer laid down the law for Tillemann. The decision, Tillemann was told, had been made long ago. It wasn’t personal, Hoyer insisted, and there was nothing uniquely unfair being done to Tillemann, he explained: This is how the party does it everywhere.

Tillemann had heard the argument before from D.C. insiders and local Democratic bigwigs, all of whom had discouraged him from challenging the establishment favorite. The only difference was that for this conversation, the candidate had his phone set to record.

The secretly taped audio recording, released here for the first time, reveals how senior Democratic officials have worked to crush competitive primaries and steer political resources, money, and other support to hand-picked candidates in key races across the country, long before the party publicly announces a preference. The invisible assistance boosts the preferred candidate in fundraising and endorsements, and then that fundraising success and those endorsements are used to justify national party support. Meanwhile, opponents of the party’s unspoken pick are driven into paranoia, wondering if they are merely imagining that unseen hands are working against them.

Hoyer bluntly told Tillemann that it wasn’t his imagination, and that mobilizing support for one Democratic candidate over another in a primary isn’t unusual. Rep. Ben Ray Luján, D-N.M., chair of the DCCC, has a “policy that early on, we’d try to agree on a candidate who we thought could win the general and give the candidate all the help we could give them,” Hoyer told Tillemann matter-of-factly.


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