Powerful Democrat Rep. Steny Hoyer Pressured Progressive Candidate To Drop Out Of Race

The second-ranking House Democrat, Rep. Steny Hoyer of Maryland, was recorded on audio in December 2017 telling Levi Tillemann, a candidate in Colorado’s Democratic primary for the 6th District, to drop out of the race because Hoyer and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) supported candidate Jason Crow (complete video below).

The Intercept reports that the DCCC and senior Democrats have been “hand-picking moderate, business friendly candidates and are attempting to push progressives out of key races.”

According to The Intercept, Hoyer’s advice to Tilleman, a former official with the Obama administration’s Energy Department, took place at the Hilton Denver Downtown. 

Tilleman told Hoyer: “You would like me to get out of the race.”

Hoyer replied: “You keep saying I would like you to get out — and of course that’s correct.”

Tilleman told Hoyer: “I know you’re fundraising for Crow.”

Hoyer told Tilleman that “a judgment was made very early on” for Crow:

Yeah, I’m for Crow. I am for Crow because a judgment was made very early on. I didn’t know Crow. I didn’t participate in the decision.

Tilleman asked Hoyer to clarify:

So your position is, a decision was made very early on before voters had a say, and that’s fine because the DCCC knows better than the voters of the 6th Congressional District, and we should line up behind that candidate.

Hoyer fired back: “That’s certainly a consequence of our decision.”

Tilleman later called out Hoyer and the DCCC for election rigging:

Crow is the favorite, in no small part, Congressman Hoyer, because the DCCC not only put its finger on the scale, but started jumping on the scale very early on. And I’m born and raised a Democrat.

I mean, it’s undemocratic to have a small elite select someone and then try to rig the primary against the other people running. And that is—that is basically what has been happening.

Hoyer replied: “I hear you, and I disagree.”

Tilleman countered: “But you were part of that process.”

Hoyer confirmed his part: “Absolutely.”

Towards the end of the conversation, Tilleman summed up the election rigging: “I’m running a campaign against Crow, and against you and against the DCCC because you guys are on Crow’s side.”

Hoyer confirmed the election rigging: “Yeah. You know, frankly, that happened in life all the time.”

Tilleman recalled the conversation with Hoyer on Democracy Now:

Well, Hoyer was in town on a fundraising trip during which he was going to hold a closed-door fundraiser for my Democratic opponent, but he reached out to me and he asked if we could sit down and have a meeting at a hotel downtown.

So I obliged and I told him that I thought that we needed to fight for truth and democracy and for democratic values. And when I say that, that’s not just Democratic values with a big “D”; that”s democracy with a small “d.”

And he told me that, quite frankly, he thought the right thing to do was for Democrats to get in early and to put their weight behind a chosen candidate.

(Sources: The Intercept, Democracy Now, Photo Credit: Center for American Progress/Flickr)

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