Key contests that may shape next year's Congress; Left-right clash in Virginia

Virginia's 10th congressional district contains two of the more visible targets of the wave of political unrest that washed across the country in the 1970s -- the Pentagon and the Central Intelligence Agency.

It was the political and social currents of that era of protest that, while altering America's foreign policy and domestic political balance, changed the congressional representation of these Washington suburbs that had been the setting for so much of the upheaval.

A conservative, pro- Nixon Republican congressman was ousted after 22 years in office in the Watergate backlash election of 1974 by a liberal Democrat named Joseph L. Fisher.

But now, as the "new politics" tide of the '70s ebbs before a resurgence of conservatism, Congressman Fisher finds himself in political trouble.

Like so many others who burst upon the national political scene during the past decade, he is accused by his Republican opponent of slipping out of touch with a congressional district that has shown increasing GOP tendencies in recent elections.

The challenger who wants to return this congressional seat to Republican hands, appropriately enough, worked inside the federal government during much of the tumultuous 1960s and 1970s. Frank R. Wolf served as an aide to a GOP lawmaker, an assistant to Secretary of the Interior Rogers C. B. Morton, and an Interior Department congressional lobbyist. He now practices law.

The challenger, 25 years Fisher's junior, expects to heavily outspend the congressman, shelling out anywhere from $300,000 to $350,000 to Fisher's $230, 000. About $9,000 of the Wolf campaign chest comes from the Republican National Committee.

The race is generally rated a tossup.

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