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21st Century Democrats
Type Political action committee
Headquarters Washington, D.C.
Executive Director Ruth Cox
Key people Tom Harkin, Jim Hightower, Lane Evans, founders
Website Official site

21st Century Democrats is a political organization founded by Senator Tom Harkin, commentator Jim Hightower and Congressman Lane Evans to help elect "progressive" or "populist" candidates in winning elections. The original founders are no longer particularly active in the organization.



21st Century Democrats started out relatively small but has quietly grown in size and significance in the last few election cycles."[1] In 2004 election cycle, according to the Political Money Line, it was the 13th largest Political Action Committee (PAC) in the United States raising nearly $7 Million. Among progressive ideological PACs, it ranked fourth behind America Coming Together, EMILY's List, and

Unlike traditional PACs, 21st Century Democrats focuses on recruiting, training, and hiring field organizers to organize grassroots campaigns on behalf of candidates for local offices, statewide office, and even targeted presidential swing states.[2] The strategy enables the group to get a value added return on its investments, and 21st Century Democrats has proven to be successful, winning the majority of its races, even though they focus on tougher, competitive races up and down the ballot.[3] The group has strong ties to veterans of Paul Wellstone's campaigns, as well as Democracy for America, which grew out of Howard Dean's presidential campaign.[4]

2008 election season

In advance of the 2008 Primary Season, 21st Century Democrats plans to officially endorse between 30 and 50 candidates in 2008. Each candidate receives a combination of field help and financial support. [5] Among the first candidates endorsed by 21st Century Democrats is Sen Kate Brown of Oregon who is running for the position of Secretary of State.[6] In December 2007 candidate Chellie Pingree received an endorsement for her run for a US Congressional seat from Maine.[7]

Partner Organizations

Since 2000 the number of grassroots progressive democratic organizations has grown. Through the use of the internet these organizations have been able to become better organized and form partnerships with other organizations. Among 21st Century Democrat's Partner organization are America Votes,[8] New Progressive Coalition LLC,[9 ] and ActBlue.[10]

In 2009, 21st Century Democrats joined Service Employees International Union,, and Daily Kos in a new effort called Accountability Now PAC. This new Political Action Committee promises to use party primaries to challenge Democratic incumbents that PAC members do not support.[11]

Religious discrimination lawsuit

In November 2007, 21st Century Democrats was sued in United States federal court by their former communications director, Kenneth Goldman.[12] The lawsuit stated that three workers were fired in 2006 for refusing to attend "religious events," referring to the Landmark Forum.[12] A formal complaint was filed in a Washington, D.C. court, stating that Landmark Education has "religious characteristics and theological implications."[12] The lawsuit also stated that Landmark Education's influence could be felt in the 21st Century Democrats' "mission, business structure ... and communications."[12]

The executive director for 21st Century Democrats stated he believed the lawsuit had no merits, and called it "frivolous."[12] A spokesman for Landmark Education stated that the San Francisco, California based company "is in no way religious in nature and any claim to the contrary is simply absurd."[12] Goldman stated that two other employees of 21st Century Democrats regularly discussed their unease with him over Landmark Education's influence over the company, and believed that former executive director Kelly Young treated the Landmark Forum seminars like a "religion."[12] Landmark Education and the two other employees who were fired are not a party to the lawsuit between Goldman and 21st Century Democrats.[12]

See also


  1. ^ Attlesey, Sam; Stahl, Lori (January 23, 1996). "New Group Seeks to Re-Focus Democratic Message.". Local News (Dallas Morning News).  
  2. ^ Garofoli, Joe (September 22, 2004). "Attention overwhelms tiny slice of swing state" (Article). News. The San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved December 22, 2008.  
  3. ^ staff (2008). "Past Candidates" (Webpage). Candidates. 21st Century Democrats. Retrieved December 22, 2008.  
  4. ^ staff (2008). "Governor Howard Dean, Founder". About us (Democracy for America). Retrieved December 22, 2008.  
  5. ^ staff (January 14, 2008). "21st Century Democrats Endorse Kate Brown" (Article). Politics (The Oregonian). Retrieved January 14, 2008.  
  6. ^ "SOS: Kate Brown wins big national endorsement". In the news. BlueOregon. January 14, 2008. Retrieved December 22, 2008.  
  7. ^ staff (December 20, 2007). "Pingree Announces Endorsements" (Press release). News (PolitikerME). Retrieved December 22, 2008.  
  8. ^ staff (2008). "21st Century Democrats" (Webpage). Partners. America Votes. Retrieved December 22, 2008.  
  9. ^ staff (2008). "Twenty-First Century Democrats" (Website). Organizations. New Progressive Coalition. Retrieved December 22, 2008.  
  10. ^ staff (2008). "21st Century Democrats" (Webpage). Fundraising page. ActBlue. Retrieved December 22, 2008.  
  11. ^ Robert Schlesinger (February 27, 2009). "Progressive Acccountability Now PAC Will Target Wayward Democrats in Primaries" (Article). U.S. News & World Report. Retrieved March 11, 2009.  
  12. ^ a b c d e f g h McElhatton, Jim (November 27, 2007). "Democratic PAC faces lawsuit for employee 'religious events'". Nation/Politics (The Washington Times). Retrieved November 27, 2007.  

External links

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