House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi publicly defended House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer after audio surfaced of a call in which he urged a Democrat candidate to drop out of a primary.
The controversy surrounding audio logs of a call between Hoyer and Colorado candidate Levi Tillerman uncovered by The Intercept continues to mount. Pelosi is trying to defuse the same tension that embittered supporters of Senator Bernie Sanders in the 2016 presidential primary.
At her weekly press conference, Pelosi claimed that she didn’t “see anything inappropriate in what Mr. Hoyer was engaged in conversation about.” Further, she dismissed the manipulation as “if the realities of life is that some candidates can do better in the general than others, then that’s a clear-eyed conversation that we should be having.”
Hoyer’s own spokesperson, Katie Grant, said much the same: “Whip Hoyer is committed to taking back the House, and that involves working with local leaders to identify and support the strongest candidate for that district.”
But neither of those statements address the growing divide between the Democratic establishment and the ever-widening current of discontent from progressives in their base. Tillerman’s opposition, U.S. Army veteran Jason Crow, seems to have been the preferred choice for a run against Republican Mike Coffman.
According to Hoyer’s call, he is “for Crow because a judgment was made very early on.” Apparently, that decision is more about toeing the establishment line than personal opinion. Hoyer said, “I didn’t know Crow. I didn’t participate in the decision. But a decision was made early on by the Colorado delegation.”
Now Pelosi is attempting to cast aspersions on Tillerman himself, questioning the legality of recording the call in the first place — despite the recording being completely legal under Colorado law. “I don’t know that a person can tape a person without the person’s consent and then release it to the press. That’s what I’m more concerned about,” she complained.
Meanwhile, The Progressive Change Campaign Committee is taking action against “targeting” by the DCCC. They have called on Hoyer to resign from Democratic leadership and are asking donors to support Tillerman and others being pushed down from within their own party.
In a statement, PCCC co-founder Stephanie Taylor said, “Steny Hoyer and his corporate cronies already lost,” and “they don’t represent the future, and it’s time for them to step aside and make room for a new generation of leadership — one that inspires and motivates the base instead of depressing it.”