This is a rush transcript from "The Journal Editorial Report," October 23, 2010. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
PAUL GIGOT, HOST: This week on the "Journal Editorial Report," Democratic barons in trouble. Some of the party's longest serving and most powerful House members are fighting for their political lives. We'll preview the races to watch. And the battle for the Senate goes down to the wire as some key contests tighten in the final stretch.
Plus, the Christy clones. Republican candidates and even a Democrat or two are taking up the New Jersey governor's reform mantle. Can they replicate his Garden State victory?
And former Countrywide CEO Angelo Mozilo settles with the SEC for his role in the mortgage mess. What about the friends of his in high places? Will Congress ever name names?
Welcome to the "Journal Editorial Report." I'm Paul Gigot.
First up this week, Democrats barons on the ropes. You may not know all of their names, but they run Washington. And in just over a week, some of the longest serving and most powerful Democrats in Congress could be out of a job after facing their toughest reelection challenges in years. The endangered list includes South Carolina Congressman John Spratt, a 14-term incumbent who chairs the House Budget Committee; and Ike Skelton of Missouri, who has served 34 years in Congress and is chairman of the House Armed Services Committee; Jim Oberstar of Minnesota is also locked in a tough fight to maintain his seat of 36 years. He's chairman of the House Transportation Committee.
So joining us to talk about all this, Wall Street Journal columnist and deputy editor, Dan Henninger; assistant editorial page editor, James Freeman; and Washington columnist, Kim Strassel.
Dan, we keep hearing this is a wave election, a big event, the kind we don't see often. But what explains the vulnerability of a guy like Ike Skelton. He hasn't gotten less than 86 percent since 1982.
DAN HENNINGER, COLUMNIST & DEPUTY EDITOR: Ike Skelton's problem is there's a percentage that's considerably higher than that. He voted with Nancy Pelosi 95 percent of the time. And it's really fascinating because Skelton, head of the Defense Committee, is very conservative guy, pro- defense, pro-Iraq, pro-Afghanistan.
GIGOT: Brought the B-2, everybody believes, to Wideman (ph) Air Force Base, the B-2 bomber.
HENNINGER: Yes. And he's running against Vicky Hartzler, a formidable candidate. He's saying she's not sufficiently pro-military. Bill Clinton came out there to campaign for him. Sarah Palin has been out there to campaign for her. His problem is, he's in a district that voted in 2008 for John McCain. Obama's —
GIGOT: By 60 percent.
HENNINGER: By 60 percent. And Obama's approval rating in that state is 36 percent. So he may lose having voted with Pelosi 90 — this is a perfect story of what the Democrats did. They, you know, forced guys like Skelton to vote with them on Obama-care, stimulus, and cap-and-trade. And now, they are paying the price, just as they were warned for the entire past year.
GIGOT: Hartzler is a former teacher and business woman, first time candidate, so she has that freshness, too, which is a real contrast with somebody who's been in the House for 34 years.
Kim, what about John Spratt, the Budget Committee chairman in South Carolina? Republicans have said for years, we can beat this guy, and they never really even come close. And this time, they have a shot. What are the dynamics in the race?
KIM STRASSEL, WASHINGTON COLUMNIST: You've got a Republican named John Mulvaney, again, new, flesh, out there running, and he is a state Senator. And he's out there talking, again, just like Dan said, about health care votes, about stimulus, about cap-and-trade. This, too, is a district that's conservative.
And one of the problems that these guys have, not just Mr. Spratt, Mr. Skelton, Mr. Oberstar, is that what they're saying in their defense at the moment is, look, you need to keep us, we're very powerful, and moreover, we've seen you, through our many years here, that we are in tune with the district and we're conservative.
STRASSEL: And what the opponents are saying and what voters are saying is, wait a minute, wait a minute, if you're as powerful as you are and you are in tune with this district, why were you not stopping Nancy Pelosi? There's a bar being set for them that's somewhat higher than some Democrats out there. And they're saying, you had a responsibility to step up and you didn't.
GIGOT: Let's take a look at an ad that the National Republican Campaign Committee who is running in John Spratt's district.