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As a lifelong New Jersey Democrat, I'm proud of my party and my state. I think New Jersey Democrats have done a pretty good job, funding stem cell research, placing a moratorium on the death penalty, creating domestic partnerships for gay couples, improving education, creating stricter laws for the environment, investing in renewable energy, expanding health care for New Jerseyans, and a host of other measures.

It is no wonder that New Jerseyans agree with us on the issues, whether it is on health care, education, the environment, energy policy, a woman's right to choose, gun control, the death penalty, stem cell research, gay rights, the minimum wage, and a host of other issues. New Jerseyans are socially liberal, believe that activist government can do good, and that we must look out for everyone in our state.

But we have been in power now for five years with control of the legislature and the governor's office. And while we have done amazing things, New Jersey Democrats are in danger of losing a key constituency.

Democrats in New Jersey consistently win because of a coalition of urban minorities, socially liberal suburbanites, strong public sector unions, and strong religious and ethnic groups like Jews, Italians, Irishmen, Poles, Russians, Chinese, Japanese, and Koreans. But the biggest of those groups, the socially liberal suburbanites, are about to turn away from us.

Socially liberal suburbanites make up close to a third of New Jersey's population, mostly women. They are pro-choice, pro-gun control, anti-death penalty, pro-education, pro-environment, and pro-stem cell research. They have voted with Democrats because the idea of conservative Republicans taking away those rights seem anathema to them. But if socially liberal Republicans like Tom Kean, Jr. are able to convince them that he will support them on those issues, but also cut their taxes, get rid of government waste, and reform our system of corrupt, unethical government, Republicans may win.

But Democrats can prevent this. We must coopt the Republicans on these issues. If we streamline government, eliminate waste, fraud, and abuse, make government efficient, institute stronger ethics, stop handing out political favors, and seriously cut taxes for most of New Jersey, we will endure a permanent majority in New Jersey for generations. If we don't, we will go into permanent minority status, only winning when the Republicans decide to go too far to the right on social issues on occasion and screw up entirely when governing.

This won't be easy, but if we're strong, New Jersey Democrats will dominate and demonstrate to the rest of the nation that liberal Democrats can win if we demonstrate that taxpayers can trust us with their money and that voters can trust us with political power.