When Audrey E. Scott ran for mayor of Bowie in 1976, her campaign manager was Joan B. Pitkin.

Early in 1978, when Pitkin was trying to decide whether to run as an independent Democrat for the House of Delegates in Maryland's 24th District, it was Scott who encouraged her to run.

Now, as the Nov. 7 general election approaches, Scott - a Republican - finds that she is pitted against her longtime friend for a seat in the House.

Pitkin, who upset the Prince George's County Democratic Party slate to get on the ticket last month, finds that she is having to choose between a campaign with her friend Scott or with the other two members of her party that are seeking the three delegate seats, Gerard F. Devlin and Charles J. Ryan, both incumbents.

"No, it isn't a problem," Scott said with a laugh, "because I'm not running against Joan. At least I'm not looking at it that way.

"When I'm out campaigning I tell people that they have three votes for the House of Delegates and I'd like one of them. Joan is my best friend. I think one of the reasons whe won in September is that she ran the same kind of campaign that she ran as a campaign manager for me.

"Personally I think we're both going to win. I don't see us fighting for the third spot at all. I think Buzzy Ryan is vulnerable and can be beaten."

The last time a Republican was elected to the House of Delegates from Prince George's County was in 1950. Scott is given an excellent shot at ending her party's drought this year.

Ryan says it won't happen. "I think all three of us are going to win," he said. "We had an intense primary - Pitkin defeated Democratic slate candidate F. Anthony McCarthy for the third Democratic spot - but I thin it was a healthy one.We're all working hard and we've pulled together very well."

In addition to Scott there are two other Republicans, Donald Bruce McBride, a 54-year-old retired Air Force colonel who is a historian and a researcher, and Alan K. Virta, 27, an archivist who was a Delegate to the Republican National Convention in 1976.

McBride freely admits that one of the major reasons he is running is to write a book about what he learns from being a candidate. But he also has mounted a fairly aggressive campaign against Democrats in general and the popular Devlin - who is considered unbeatable - in particular.

"My way of campaigning is very simple," McBride said. "I just go up to people and ask them what they're concerned about. They usually recited all the usual concerns, taxes, government spending and so on, and then I tell them. 'Well, those are my main concerns too and I'm a Republican. You see, you're as conservative as I am.'"

McBride says the key to cutting taxes is to make government smaller. "I won't change as long as we have a one-party system in this county and this state."

McBride says he has been pleased with the response he has gotten from voters thus far but concedes he may not have time before election day to gain the name recognition needed to upset the Democrats.

Scott, 42, has no such problem. She has been mayor of Bowie since 1976 and served on the City Council for a year before that. Bowie makes up 40 percent of the electorate in the district, and, historically, candidates from Bowie have fared well. All the Democrats are from Bowie.

Scott has campaigned heavily outside Bowie, in Greenbelt, Upper Marlboro and Kettering, trying to gain the districtwide recognition she feels will make the difference.

"I'm campaigning as someone who has been involved in mumicipal government for many years," she said. "This is a municipal district and I think there's more need for municipal respresentation in Annapolis from the county and throughout the state. That's what I've been trying to get across to people, that I know what municipal problems are about."

Scott knows that for a Republican to win in Prince George's County she must receive Democratic votes but says she has not gone out of her way to woo Democrats.

"I know I need Democratic votes," she said, "but I'm just going out looking for votes, not party votes."

Conversely, the Democrats must try to convince their own party members that they should not cross party lines, that the three Democrats running on the slate along with state Sen. Edward Conroy (who is unopposed) still represent their best interests.

"I still think that in the long run the difference in registered voters (Republicans are outnumbered 3-1) will make the difference," Ryan said. "As long as we stick together, we'll win."

The Democrats have won year-after-year in Prince George's by doing just that. The Republicans are, for the most part, running independently, although Scott said they would begin to do some work together next week.

While Democrats Devlin and Ryan will work together throughout the campaign, Pitkin is taking a compromise position.

"I'm a Democrat and I'm supporting all Democrats, but I'm maintaining my independence," she said. "I'm not pitted against Audrey at all. If anything, Audrey's pitted against Buzz Ryan.

"T"I'm a Democrat and Audrey's a Republican; our philosphies are different. But our friendship transcends that."