21st Century Democrats
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About Us

Our Mission

Since 1985, the mission of 21st Century Democrats has revolved around training progressives and building a network of populist Democrats who stand up for America’s working families.

We focus particular attention on Democratic leaders who can move up to higher office at every level and who represent the tradition of Democrats like Jim Hightower, Tom Harkin, Barbara Boxer, Raul Grijalva, John Lewis, Al Gore and Paul Wellstone. We support progressive Democratic leaders who will shape the direction of the Democratic Party and enact public policy that transforms this country to a just, fair and equal society for all.

Our Vision and Values

We are committed to leading the way toward a bold and progressive agenda that will improve the quality of life for all Americans. Our goal is to elect genuinely progressive Democrats who believe government has a positive role to play in our country and will fight to enact public policy that reflects the core values of equality, opportunity, compassion, justice and fairness that 21st Century Democrats believes in, stands up for, and works toward on a daily basis.

Our Strategies

Cultivating Leadership at Every Level

We educate young people who have shown a strong interest in politics and idealism about the future in grassroots organizing and field work. We have trained thousands of high school and college students, college graduates, and party activists, placing hundreds of them in their first political jobs in support of the progressive leaders we endorse. These results speak for themselves as many alumni have gone on to manage higher profile campaigns, become leaders in the progressive community, or even get elected as officials themselves.

Supporting Candidates Who Will Make a Difference

In each election cycle, we endorse a diverse array of candidates who exemplify our values and show unusual promise to advance our progressive goals. We invest in some of the most competitive races as well as in some of the most challenging – those in which the candidates are outstanding but the traditional Democratic supporters are most reticent. We back candidates in primaries as well as general election races, and we focus the bulk of our resources on electing challengers and protecting vulnerable incumbents.

Building a Powerful Network of Progressive Leaders

In a world in which social networks are the key to continued progress, we support our team of field organizers and elected leaders after Election Day. Through our alumni network, we foster relationships and often help alumni find their next job. We provide support and recognition for the members of our 21st Century Leaders In Action network, and we encourage the sharing and collaboration of ideas in order to help bolster progressive policies at all levels of government.

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2014 Endorsements


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Mark Udall

Eight months from Election Day, the Koch brothers launched a $1 million attack ad campaign against Senator Mark Udall in an initial round of ads…
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Andrew Romanoff

Democrat Andrew Romanoff has taken on Tea Party Rep. Mike Coffman in Colorado’s 6th District, and analysts rate the race as a toss up. Coffman…
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Wendy Davis

“I stand with Wendy Davis” became a rallying cry for progressives across the country inspired by the Texas state senator’s 13-hour filibuster and protest against…
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Bruce Braley

Soon after 21st Century Democrats co-founder Tom Harkin announced he wouldn’t run for a sixth term as a U.S. senator representing Iowa, he threw his…
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Al Franken

Al Franken won his first term to the U.S. Senate in 2009 after a drawn-out recount that gave him the win by only 312 votes….
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Sheila Simon

Running for comptroller in Illinois, Lt. Gov. Sheila Simon promises not just accounting, but accountability. In a state notorious for its political scandals, Simon offers…
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Jeff Merkley

Before Jeff Merkley won his first term as a U.S. senator, he led the Oregon state legislature, where he had a reputation for getting things done….
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