In Nebraska, Republicans yesterday scrambed for a chance to restore the statehouse to the GOP. In West Virginia, the oungest member of Congress fought for his seat against the old-timer who gave it up in 1976 but now wants it back.

A five-candidate battle for the Republican nomination for governor highlighted Nebraska primary elections. The outcome in only one major Democratic contest aparently was in doubt.

The GOP battle for the bugernatorial nomination appeared largely to be a race to cathc Rep. Charles Thone (R-Neb.), the best-known name in the field and the acknowledged front-runner in the GOP derby.

Thone's three major competitiors were former North Platte mayor Robert Phares, millionaire businessman Stan Juelfs of Kimball, and Vance Rogers of Lincoln, former president of Nebraska Wesleyan University. The fifth Republican is Richard Hedrick of Waverly, a railroad locomotive engineer, who filed as a candidate to protest the $400 filing fee.

Lt. Gov. Gerald Whelan was expected to win the Democratic gubernatorial nomination easily from selfemployed bricklayer Robert Hansen, 44, of Grand Island.

Lt. Gov. Gerald Whelan was expected to win the jemocratic gubernatorial nomination easily from self-employed bricklayer Robert hansen, 44, of Grand Island.

Gov. J. James Exon, who is completing his second four-year term, was unopposed for the Democratic nomination for the U.S. Senate.

Don Shasteen, longtime aide to retiring Sen. Carl Curtis, had token opposition from Lenore Etchison, 48, an educator and sometime University of Nebaska graduate student, for the Republican Senate nomination.

Of the nominations for the three Nebraska House seats, the 1st District primaries to succeed Thone were the only two in apparent doubt.

The Democratic struggle featured 1974 nomiee Hess Dyas of Lincoln, Lancaster County Commissioner Bruce Hamilton of Lincoln and former Democratic national committeeman Allen O'Donnell of Wayne.

The Republican 1st District primary featured State Sens Doug Bereuter and Loran Schmit.

In West Virginia, former Rep. Ken Hechler's effort to unseat the freshman Democratic House member who replaced him two years ago highlighted the primary elections.

Hechler, who served nine terms in the House before making an abortive run for the governorship in 1976, faced Rep. Nick Joe Rahall in the coal mine country of the 4th Congressional District.

In the statewide races, Democratic Sen. Jennings Randolph was expected to win renomination handily, and former Gov. Arch Moore was heavily favored to capture the Republican nomination and face Randolph in the fall.

Randolph, 76, who has been in Congress since 1932 and a senator since 1958, was expected to win hanily over New Martinsville housewife Sharon Rogers, 33.

Moore, 55, the first man ever elected to two consecutve four-year therms as governor, was heavily favored over Donald Michels, a former state legislator, in the GOP race.

Three of West Virginia's Democratic congressmen were renominated without challenge: John Slack, Robert Mollohan and Harley O. Staggers.