Virginia Gov. L. Douglas Wilder yesterday set Jan. 8 as the date for Arlington's special election to fill the House of Delegates seat held by the late Warren G. Stambaugh.

As Democrats and Republicans scramble to organize for the second special election in the county in less than a year, several possible candidates have emerged, including Stambaugh's widow, Rosemary Stambaugh.

Stambaugh, a Democrat who had represented the heavily Democratic 49th District since 1974, was one of the most influential members of the House until his death last week of an apparent heart attack. He was 46.

Rosemary Stambaugh intends to run but has not yet made a formal announcement of her candidacy, said Mary Beth Zimmerman, who identified herself as a friend and spokesman for Stambaugh.

The two Democrats who had been considered the most likely candidates, County Board Chairman Albert C. Eisenberg and board Vice Chairman William T. Newman Jr., said yesterday they are not interested in running.

Eisenberg said the General Assembly would be "a step down . . . Arlington is a smaller venue, but the needs of the community I can deal with more effectively."

Newman, the board's only black member and the most likely choice for board chairman next year, also said he wants to stay on the board.

Another potential candidate is lawyer Lutrelle F. Parker, chairman of a citizen committee studying possible locations for a controversial county shelter for homeless people and drug treatment center. Parker said yesterday that he is interested in running but would defer to Rosemary Stambaugh.

Amy Gondles, a longtime Democratic activist and wife of former Arlington sheriff James A. Gondles Jr., said yesterday that she also is considering running. Another possible candidate is Bobby B. Stafford, a lawyer.

On the GOP side, J.D. Millar, who identified himself as a "pro-choice Republican" said he will seek his party's nomination. Millar is the vice president of a Tysons Corner international trading firm and managed Republican Monte Davis's unsuccessful bid for a County Board seat in the spring.

Schools activist Alice Tennies, a sharp critic of the county's sex education plan, said she is considering a run but declined to comment further.

The Republican nominee will be chosen at a party canvass on Dec. 1, said Joan W. Haring, chairman of the Arlington County Republican committee. Last night Democrats decided to select their nominee at an informal primary on Dec. 5.

Democrats regard the 49th District as the safest of Arlington's three House of Delegate districts, one in which registered Democrats outnumber Republicans by about 3 to 1.

The district covers central and south Arlington and ranges from pricey, tree-lined neighborhoods of single-family homes to the thousands of apartments in Crystal City, home to many transient professionals. The district also includes longtime black neighborhoods of Nauck and Arlington View.