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In secret recording, No. 2 House Democrat calls on 2 potential candidates to sit out Florida race


The No. 2 Democrat in the U.S. House of Representatives told political donors he doesn't want two potential South Florida candidates to run for Congress because they would compete with the only person who has filed to run so far.

Democratic Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, who backs Annette Taddeo to challenge Republican Rep. Carlos Curbelo, headlined a fundraiser Saturday at Taddeo's home. He appears to have been secretly recorded. The audio was obtained by America Rising, a conservative super PAC.

In his remarks, Hoyer made reference to former Rep. Joe Garcia and Andrew Korge, son of Democratic fundraiser Chris Korge. Both Garcia and the younger Korge have been mulling their own candidacies.

"I want you to tell Chris," Hoyer begins in the recording, apparently referring to Andrew Korge, "and I want you to tell Joe, 'Look, this is not about personalities. This is about our best opportunity. Annette Taddeo, I tell you, is our best opportunity to win a seat in South Florida... That's why I told you I contributed. Joe Garcia is my friend; I'm not down here against Joe Garcia. But I will tell you, I don't want him to run, because I want to maximize our opportunity."

America Rising posted the audio online, along with an introduction. "While Democratic leaders are struggling to recruit viable candidates across the country, they still find time to push their heavy-handed agenda in local politics," the super PAC wrote. "The Democratic voters in Florida’s 26th District deserve the opportunity to support the candidate who suits them best, not the Washington establishment."

In a statement to the Herald, Korge took a swipe at establishment Democrats -- and Taddeo.

"Leave it to the Washington insiders to think that backing someone who has lost all three of her races is a winning strategy," he said.

In an interview with the Miami Herald, Garcia said Democrats "all want the same thing:someone who represents the interests of South Florida. Carlos has voted for Republicans and for Washington. Steny Hoyer, Annette Taddeo, Chris Korge and Andrew Korge are all good friends of mine, but this election shouldn't be decided by the leaders in Washington."

Garcia said he still hasn't made up his mind about the race: "I'm thinking, but I'm not deciding anything. There is no question that I loved representing the people of South Florida."