A tape recording made in January and leaked last week to the Intercept captures House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, the number two Democrat in the House of Representatives, telling a liberal candidate for the Democratic nomination in the Sixth Congressional District of Colorado that he should pull out in favor of the choice of the party leadership, Iraq War veteran and former paratrooper Jason Crow, who is now a well-connected corporate lawyer.
The liberal candidate, "green" capitalist Levi Tillemann, had previously denounced Hoyer's intervention and released notes of their discussion, but the tape recording provides a more detailed picture of the electoral strategy being pursued by the Democratic Party leadership in 2018.
With Crow engaged in a primary contest against two more liberal opponents, Tillemann and David Aarestad, a lawyer for the University of Colorado and health care activist, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) gave Crow its highest token of support, designating his candidacy as part of the "Red to Blue" campaign. The DCCC has poured money into the district to support him.
Aarestad withdrew from the race last month under pressure from Washington, but Tillemann has refused to do so.
The recording is from a face-to-face meeting at the Denver Hilton between Hoyer and Tillemann. Hoyer can be heard saying, "Staying out of primaries sounds small-D democratic, very intellectual and very interesting. But it was clear that it was our policy and our hope that we could, early on, try to come to an agreement on a candidate that we thought could win the general, and to give that candidate all the help we could give them."
Hoyer has personally given $4,000 to Crow's campaign, while his AmeriPac political action committee has donated $10,000. Other big money Democrats have backed Crow, swelling his campaign coffers to $1,260,000 as of the latest filing with the Federal Election Commission, on March 31. Tillemann, a developer of electric vehicles and former adviser to the Obama Energy Department, has raised $278,000, while Aarestad had raised $139,000 before withdrawing.
Similar interventions have been reported in Democratic primary campaigns in Texas, Florida, New York, Pennsylvania, Nebraska, Minnesota, California and other states. In virtually every case, the party leadership has favored the more right-wing candidate against those who described themselves as "progressives" or hailed from the Bernie Sanders wing of the party.
The transcript of the Hoyer-Tillemann conversation deserves quotation at some length, because it gives a glimpse of the ruthlessness and unvarnished cynicism of the Democratic Party leadership:
Hoyer: Levi, obviously I wanted to talk to you about this congressional race.
Tillemann: You would like me to get out of the race.
Hoyer: You keep saying I would like you to get out, and of course that's correct.
Tillemann: I know you're fundraising for Crow.
Hoyer: Yeah. I'm for Crow. I am for Crow because a judgment was made very early on. I didn't participate in the decision.
Tillemann: So your position is a decision was made very early on before voters had a say. That's fine because the DCCC knows better than the voters of the Sixth Congressional District, and we should line up behind that candidate.