The shiny 31-foot Airstream trailer plying the streets and back roads of Montgomery County these days is an appropriate symbol for the shoestring campaign that Wendell M. Holloway is waging in the 8th Congressional District.

Lacking the resources of other, better known candidates in the Democratic primary, the affable Holloway is counting on the personal touch -- and his family's trailer -- to carry his message to Democratic voters this summer.

Holloway, 53, is on leave from his job as a lobbyist for Ford Motor Co. while he campaigns for Congress.

Like rivals Leon Billings and Carlton Sickles, Holloway contends that his own career in Washington politics makes him the most qualified candidate to succeed Rep. Michael D. Barnes.

Holloway, the only black running for the 8th District seat, has worked on Capitol Hill for the past 12 years, first as an assistant to former representative Yvonne Braithwaite Burke (D-Calif.).

He worked for Burke for three years and for Ford for the past nine, specializing in legislative matters in the House of Representatives.

He also has forged some ties to Montgomery County Democrats by working in the campaigns of County Executive Charles W. Gilchrist, Barnes and Democratic presidential candidates.

In 1984, Holloway was a delegate for Walter Mondale at the party's national convention.

In political forums around the district, Holloway has sounded themes noticeably more moderate than those of the other congressional candidates. He has stressed the need for more federal aid to education and new economic strategies to place the United States on a better footing in worldwide markets.

"Keeping America on top must be our number one goal," he said recently.

However, Holloway has yet to capture broad support for his candidacy, in part because he has relatively few volunteers and has raised comparatively little money. The candidate has lent more than $15,000 to his own campaign, according to federal election records. His staff has shown a few signs of poor preparation. For example, when Holloway formally opened the campaign last month, organizers passed out a map showing the route of his "person to person, street to street" trek around the district. The names of three of the 31 community stops -- Brookeville, Layhill and Scotland -- were misspelled.

Holloway, a District of Columbia native who earned a doctorate from the University of Southern California, has long been active in the affairs of his Bethesda neighborhood and the football boosters club at Winston Churchill High School, where three of his children have been students.

A retired Air Force colonel and Vietnam War veteran, Holloway has served on the Board of Trustees of the State Universities and Colleges since 1983.