FORMER GOV. GEORGE C. Wallace (D), attempting a comeback at age 63, is a narrow favorite over Montgomery Mayor Emory Folmar, 52, (R), a wealthy developer and former Democrat known for his tough law-and-order views. Folmar, who has given up wearing a pistol for the campaign period, is outspending and outcampaigning Wallace, in the GOP's most serious bid ever for the governorship. Confined to a wheelchair and half-deaf, Wallace is preaching a populist message of economic protest against the pro- Reagan Folmar in a state with 14.2 percent unemployment. He is hoping for a big and solid black vote. Folmar claimed to be within a few points of Wallace. If Folmar wins, it would be an epochal victory.
Former Wallace press secretary Billy Joe Camp (D) has an uphill challenge to nine- term Rep. William L. Dickinson (R). Freshman Rep. Albert Lee Smith Jr. (R), a shaky winner last time, is battling Jefferson County Commissioner Ben Erdreich (D).
THE REMATCH BETWEEN Gov. Frank D. White (R), 49, and the man he ousted in 1980, ex-Gov. Bill Clinton (D), 36, has seen White claw his way back to contention. Clinton, tabbed a rising star until his 1980 upset, led through most of the early stages by emphasizing he had learned the lesson that voters wanted him staying home and not playing national party politics. But White won the National Rifle Assn. endorsement amid charges that Clinton had tried to fuzz his position on gun control -- charges that led each to accuse the other of lying. White has managed to attract as much criticism as Clinton did in his term and voters are squirming at the choice.
SO ONE-SIDED ARE THE RACES for governor and senator that the major Florida newspapers canceled plans for their regular late-October poll. Gov. Robert Graham (D), 45, is breezing to a second term over Rep. L. A. (Skip) Bafalis (R), 53, and Sen. Lawton Chiles (D), 52, has as easy a run for a third term against state Sen. Van B. Poole (R), 47. Both challengers have tried to tag the incumbents as big-spending liberals, but the charges have not stuck.
Fourteen-term Rep. Dante B. Fascell (D) faces his strongest challenge from well-known Miami TV anchorman Glenn Rinker (R), but a poll on Rinker's old station, WPLG, Wednesday gave Fascell a 52-38 percent lead. The other incumbent with a real race is freshman Rep. Bill McCollum (R), but state Rep. Dick Batchelor (D) has been outspent 2-1 and is lagging.
In the four new seats gained by reapportionment, two are safe Democratic and two are battlegrounds, with a slight edge to Republicans. One battleground district pits state Rep. George H. Sheldon (D) against lawyer Michael Bilirakis (R). The other, probably a surer bet for the GOP, sends state Sen. Tom Lewis (R) against lawyer-rancher Brad Culverhouse (D).
Connie Mack III (R), a former bank president and grandson of the Philadelphia Athletics' owner-manager, inherits Bafalis' old House seat.
REPUBLICANS SAY THAT if state Sen. Bob Bell (R), 53, their candidate for governor, had started earlier and had more money, he might have upset state Rep. Joe Frank Harris (D), 46, the favorite to succeed retiring Gov. George Busbee (D). Bell has criticized Harris' refusal to make a full financial disclosure and has called for a grand jury to investigate alleged corruption. But Harris has raised a record $2.87 million and, even with the divisions remaining from his runoff victory over Rep. Bo Ginn (D), he is ahead.
Farmer-banker Lindsay Thomas (D) is favored over state Rep. Herb Jones (R) for the old Ginn seat, and former Senate aide Richard Ray (D) has a slight edge over lawyer Tyron Elliott (R) to succeed retiring Rep. Jack Brinkley (D). Redistricting problems have delayed until Nov. 30 voting in the districts of Reps. Wyche Fowler, Jr. (D) and Elliott H. Levitas (D) -- with Levitas facing a serious challenge.
EXCEPT FOR A LONGSHOT chance that state Rep. Terry L. Mann (D) may upset nine-term Rep. Gene Snyder (R), who was hurt by redistricting, politics is so quiet you can hear the (blue)grass grow.
ALL EIGHT INCUMBENTS, six Democrats and two Republicans, were re- elected by gaining majorities in the September open primary.
SOME POLLS INDICATE late second thoughts, but Haley Barbour (R), a 34- year-old lawyer and political consultant, seems to have failed to make Mississippians believe his slogan that it is time for "a senator for the '80s." Sen. John C. Stennis (D), 81, appears to be on his way to a sixth term.
The big news from Mississippi may be the election of its first black congressman since Reconstruction. State Rep. Robert G. Clark (D) is favored to replace retiring Rep. David R. Bowen (D), with near-solid black support and help from the white party establishment. Former Circuit Court Judge Webb Franklin (R) has an outside chance for an upset. In the rematch between freshman Rep. Wayne Dowdy (D) and businessman Liles Williams (R), redistricting and incumbency favor Dowdy but a black independent candidate could draw off some votes.
NO STATEWIDE CONTESTS, but plenty of tough House races. With backing from the fund-raising and political machine of Sen. Jesse Helms (R), former University of North Carolina athletic director William Cobey, Jr. (R) is favored to defeat Rep. Ike Andrews (D), who pleaded guilty to drunk-driving charges recently. Other Democrats with serious races are favored: Rep. Charles Whitley (D) vs. retired Navy aviator and POW Eugene (Red) McDaniel (R); Rep. Stephen L. Neal (D) in a rematch with former state Sen. Anne Bagnal (R); and Rep. W. G. (Bill) Hefner (D) vs. businessman Harris D. Blake (R).
Democrats are taking their major run against freshman Rep. Bill Hendon (R), with state Sen. JamessMcClure Clarke (D) the nominee. They are also challenging freshman Rep. Eugene Johnston (R) with lawyer Charles Robin Britt (D).
GOV. GEORGE NIGH (D), 55, is on the verge of becoming the state's first two- term governor, running comfortably ahead of state auditor Tom Daxon (R), 34, whose calls for economy have not registered against a man who claims to have cut taxes each year he has been in office. All House incumbents seem safe.
GOV. RICHARD RILEY (D), 49, is a cinch to gain a second term over retired editor William D. Workman Jr. (R), 68.
Freshman Rep. John L. Napier (R) is a slight favorite to withstand the challenge of state Rep. Robert M. Tallon, Jr. (D), and Democrat John Spratt (D) should take over the seat of retiring Rep. Ken Holland (D).
GOV. LAMAR ALEXANDER (R), 42, carries a healthy lead into the final days of his second-term fight with Knoxville Mayor Randy Tyree (D), 42.
Sen. Jim Sasser (D), 46, is coasting to his second term over Rep. Robin L. Beard (R), 43, whose campaign is rated by Washington GOP officials as the prize example of a bungled Republican opportunity.
Democrats are favored to take over the Beard seat, with former Tennessee public service commissioner Bob Clement (D), and should win the new seat, where lawyer Jim Cooper (D), 28, is beating Cissy Baker (R), 26, daughter of the Senate majority leader.
GOV. WILLIAM CLEMENTS (R), 65, has spent $11.5 million, almost double the amount state Attorney General Mark White (D), 42, has had behind him in this tough battle, and Clements is favored for a narrow victory. More united than usual, Democrats are gearing to match Clements' massive turnout effort and say their polls show the race is a tossup. But Clements has worked to cut into the Hispanic vote and is the betting favorite.
Sen. Lloyd Bentsen (D), 61, is ready to blow away Rep. James M. Collins (R), 66, and win a third term.
House action centers on five very close districts. Freshman Rep. Bill Patman (D) has been in a mud-throwing contest with ex-Rep. Joe Wyatt Jr. (R), who served in the House as a Democrat but retired after admitting alcoholism. An open Democratic seat in El Paso pits state Rep. Ronald Coleman (D) against Alderman Pat B. Haggerty (R), with tradition working for the Democrat but the money edge on the other side. Veteran Rep. Abraham (Chick) Kazen, Jr. (D) was on his way to being upset in his new territory by Bexar County Commissioner Jeff Wentworth (R), but may have awakened in time. Former Arlington Mayor Tom Vandergriff (D) is a slight favorite over Jim Bradshaw (R), who lost in a neighboring district to Majority Leader Jim Wright (D) last time. Mike Andrews (D) may have the edge on Mike Faubion (R) in a lawyers' battle for a new Houston seat.
DESPITE A SUBSTANTIAL money advantage and a much earlier campaign start, Rep. Paul S. Trible Jr. (R), 35, was unable to open a lead on Lt. Gov. Richard J. Davis (D), 61, in the race to succeed retiring Sen. Harry F. Byrd Jr., the Independent who caucused as a Democrat but most often voted with Reagan. Trible's failure frustrated national GOP strategists, who feared Davis would benefit from a late TV drive featuring popular Gov. Charles S. Robb (D) and the same kind of massive, solid black vote that elected Robb in 1981. But Trible is heavier on TV this weekend and may have a better vote- turnout machine. The polls of both today's Richmond Times-Dispatch and the GOP show Trible three points ahead, but the race is clearly a tossup.
Democrats are aiming for a pickup or two in the 9-1 Republican House delegation. Main battlegrounds are the third round of the tossup battle between Rep. Stan Parris (R) and ex-Rep. Herbert E. Harris II (D); the challenge of business executive James Olin (D) to state Rep. Kevin Miller (R) in the seat of retiring Rep. M. Caldwell Butler (R); and the effort by state Rep. Norman Sisisky (D) against Rep. Robert W. Daniel, Jr. (R). Freshman Rep. Frank R. Wolf (R) is favored over lawyer Ira M. Lechner (D) and the GOP is expected to hold Trible's seat with state Sen. Herbert Bateman (R).