Jeremiah Denton, 56, is the first GOP senator from Alabama since 1900. A much-decorated former Navy pilot and Naval Academy classmate of Jimmy Carter, Adm. Denton was shot down over Vietnam in 1965 and gained fame when he blinked the letters T-O-R-T-U-R-E in Morse code with his eyes during a televised interview as a prisoner of war. Released to a hero's acclaim in 1973, the tough-talking father of seven worked for the Christian Broadcasting Network in Mobile and founded the state Coalition for Decency, a religious education group. With the backing of the Moral Majority, Denton defeated Democrat Jim Folsom Jr., son of the legendary former governor, in a testy campaign where both sides invoked God, country and family issues. Denton also stressed his international experience and said he will try for a seat on the Foreign Relations Committee. Iowa

Rep. Charles E. Grassley, 47, became known as a reliable vote against increased government funding during his three House terms, but his supporters were less dedicated to electing him than they were to defeating liberal Sen. John C. Culver. An unassuming, slow-talking Baptist farmer who calls himself Chuck, Grassley was a speaker at the Moral Majority's conference of born-again Christians in Washington last April. He was backed by a loose coalition of New Right groups as well as the National Conservative Political Action Committee. A former college instructor of political science, he also worked on an assembly line as a Machinists Union member after his election to the state legislature at the age of 25. He served there 16 years and now runs a 200-acre soybean and corn farm in New Hartford. tIn the House he focused on agricultural policy and promoted his work on problems of the elderly. Alaska

Frank H. Murkowski, 47, a Fairbanks banker, upset Democrat Clark S. Gruening in a race that lost much of its spark after Gruening beat the controversial incumbent, Sen. Mike Gravel, in the primary. Murkowski, a Seattle, Wash., native who has spent 37 years in Alaska, was state economic development commissioner during the 1966-1969 term of Republican Gov. Walter J. Hickel and was nominated for the Senate in a runaway primary victory. The father of six had been president of the Alaska National Bank of the North in Fairbanks for nine years and remains a director of the bank. Backed by oil and business interests in the Lower 48 states as well as Alaska, Murkowski attacked Gruening as too liberal for the state and called for petrochemical development and reductions in government spending. He said Gruening had no qualifications for the Senate other than the name of his grandfather, Alaska's first senator. New Hampshire

Warren Rudman, 49, emerged from an 11-man primary to begin a bitter campaign for the Senate against an old foe, Democratic incumbent John Durkin. He charged that Durkin had extensive ties to out-of-state big labor and pledged to accept no out-of-state funding himself.A Jewish native of Boston, Rudman was state attorney general from 1970 to 1976, winning renown as a consumer activist for setting up a consumer protection division and battling casino gambling. He was nominated by President Ford to the Interstate Commerce Commission, but withdrew when it became clear that Durkin's quiet opposition would doom his confirmation. In this race, Rudman's first try for elective office, he called for a constitutional amendment to limit federal spending but opposed one banning abortions, though opposed to abortions himself. He also opposes the Equal Rights Amendment. South Dakota

James Abdnor, 57, stepping up after four House terms, is probably the most publicized beneficiary of the National Conservative Political Action Committee's fabled "hit list" of liberal senators. Encouraged by NCPAC to run against incumbent Democrat George McGovern, the unassuming rancher appeared uneasy with the organization's harsh attacks on his opponent, especially those calling McGovern a "baby-killer" for his proabortion stance. He refused to debate McGovern on grounds that debating skill did not a senator make, and appeared to be losing support up until election night. But Abdnor is popular as an honest, just-folks rancher with a homespun stump style, despite a slight-speech impediment, and his basically conservative views put him in the mainstream of Ronald Reagan's sweep. He is particularly interested in raising defense spending, and has served on the House committees on public works and veterans' affairs. Florida

Paula Hawkins, 53, is "just a Maitland [Fla.] housewife" who gained fame as a hard-hitting consumer advocate in six years on the state Public Service Commission. A lively debater with a flair for publicity, she voted against utility rate increases and sparked a state investigation of oil price-fixing that led ti five indictments. Defeated in earlier bids for the House, the Senate and the lieutenant governorship, she deemphasized issues in her race against insurance commissioner William Gunter, promoting instead her accessibility to the public while on the commission. Later she stressed defense, favoring the B1 bomber, the MX missile and higher weapons spending. A Mormon, she opposes the Equal Rights Amendment and supports a constitutional amendment to halt abortions. She would also abolish the president's Office of Consumer Protection and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration despite her consumer advocate background. New York

Alfonse D'Amato, 43, campaigned on classic conservative lines to win a victory measured in inches. Beginning totally unknown outside Nassau County, where he was town supervisor in Hempstead, the Brooklyn native ran a bitter primary campaign that stressed the failing health of venerable incumbent Republican Jacob Javits, 76, who was seeking a fifth term. He pointed out that Hempstead had a population larger than seven states and announced he would spend $1 million in television ads, one of them featuring his 66-year-old mother. After defeating Javits, D'Amato charged that liberal Democratic Rep. Elizabeth Holtzman was out of tune with the state. He had trouble shaking an old association with Republican machine politics, and Holtzman pointed at his frequent shoot-from-the-hip remarks that seem to lead later to policy reversals, notably on the Equal Rights Amendment and abortion issues. It was one of the stormiest campaigns of the year. Georgia

Mack Mattingly, 49, Georgia's first Republican senator since Reconstruction, is an ex-IBM salesman from St. Simons who came out of nowhere to slay Georgia's four-term political Goliath, Sen. Herman Talmadge, 67. The making of an upset became apparent as metro Atlanta's anti-Talmadge vote rolled in. Talmadge had failed to shed the political baggage of his 1979 Senate denunciation for financial misconduct, a bitter public divorce, a drinking problem and a reputation as a point man for big business. Mattingly claimed victory at noon yesterday, but Talmadge had not conceded by early last evening. Mattingly has never held public office. He is handsome, if colorless, a former state party chairman who moved to Georgia from Indiana 25 years ago to work for IBM and start an office supply business. He ran a pocketbook-oriented campaign that advocated a 30 percent income tax cut and tax indexing. North Carolina

John P. East, 49, is an articulate political science instructor of the New Right qho has never before held public office. A tentured full porfessor at East Carolina University in Greenville, where he has taught for 15 years, he ran for office twice in the 1960s but lost. He entered the national arena as a Reagan delegate to the 1976 Republican convention and a party national committeeman that year. Much of his political muscle this year against incumbent Democrat Robert Morgan came from the organization of Republican Sen. Jesse Helms, as well as from several New Right groups. A polio victim, East is confined to a wheelchair and was thought to be trailing during the campaign because of his limited personal appearances. But East relied heavily on television ads to blast Morgan's votes on defense issues, pledging support for the B1 bomber and the MX missile. Washington

Slade Gorton, 52, calls himself a moderate conservative with an athlete's vigor and enthusiasm for his new job. In his third term as a popular state attorney general, he won on a campaign that put low-key emphasis on the failing health of incumbent Democrat Warren Magnuson, 75. President Ford appointed Gorton to the National Consumer Advisory Council in 1975, recognizing his work on Washington's consumer protection services and his reputation as a champion against corrupt business practices. Gorton called himself a "skinny cat" said he would reject donations from out-of-state political action committees, a position he later abandoned. A supporter of the Equal Rights Amendment and of military pay increases, Gorton proposes legal limits on the federal budgets size A reserved, somewhat aloof fitness enthusiast who runs 20 miles a week, Gorton once bicycled with his family from Olympia, Wash., to Boston Mass. Idaho

Rep. Steven D. Symms, 42, a Nampa fruit farmer, ousted veteran Sen. Frank Church in a classic New Right campaign heavily funded by conservative out-of-state groups. A four-term House member, Symms wants changes in the tax system to promote savings and investment, and charged that Church was weak on defense and had undermined Idaho development needs with too much wilderness legislation. There is no energy crisis but only an "energy production crisis," he has said. Symms' promotion of Idaho products to Libya became a campaign issue, as did his purchase of silver futures while a member of the House subcommittee that oversees commodity futures trading but he countered with strong support from Idaho's other senator, Republican James A. McClure. He has said his goals will be to "reform, revise and repeal" the "outdated laws, misgruided regulations [and] those laws which should never have been passed in the first place." Oklahoma

Don Nickles, 31, has pledged to seek abolition of the Departments of Energy and Education as part of the fundamentalist approach to government that brings him to Washington. A boyish businessman whose Ponca City company manufactures large engine parts, Nickles had the backing of the Moral Majority in building a coalition among the state Republicans to replace their retiring Sen. Henry Bellmon. The Tulsa World decided that Nickles "advocates the virtual dismemberment of the national government" in opposing the Environment Protection Agency, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the Department of Housing and Urban Development, as well as the two DOEs. He was a co-founder of the Oklahoma Coalition for Peace Through Strength and apparently advocated higher defense spending more convincingly to Oklahomans than did the Democratic candidate, former Oklahoma County district attorney Andy Coats. Indiana

Rep. Dan Quayle, 33, ousted liberal Sen. Birch Bayh on the same "18 years is enough" theme that Bayh used to win the seat from his predecessor in 1962. He had strong backing from the National Conservative Poltical Action Committee, but disavowed the group and once asked a reporter who the Moral Majority was. The two-term congressman spent heavily during this campaign from his own sizable family fortune, which includes the Indianapolis Star, the largest newspaper in the state. An energetic, cheerful Redford lookalike, Quayle is an attorney and was associate publisher of the Huntington Herald-Press when he decided to run for Congress in 1976. The GOP named him one of the new stars of that freshman class. Bayh attacked Quayle's congressional record in the campaign, however, saying Quayle sponsored no original legislation and had a poor attendance record. Pennsylvania

Arlen Specter, 50, a winner for the first time in five races since 1967, became known as the intense, honest district attorney of Philadelphia who sent six Teamsters Union officials to jail in the early 1960s. He turned down a spot in Robert Kennedy's Justice Department but was assistant counsel in 1964 to the Warren Commission investigating President Kennedy's asassination. Known as a highly organized, team-player party loyalist, Specter beat seven primary opponents under the slogan," A tough senator for tough times." In a largely issue-free campaign, Specter said he would work harder than his Democratic opponent, Pete Flaherty, in replacing retiring incumbent Republican Richard Schweiker. The father of two, and the husband of a member of the Philadelphia City Council, Specter enjoys a fast game of squash and lists watching football and baseball games among his hobbies. Wisconsin

Robert W. Kasten Jr., 38, was the eager golden boy of Wisconsin conservatives when he emerged from the Gilbert Shoe Co. of Thiensville, his hometown, to run for the state Senate in 1972. sHe went to Congress in 1974, where his voting record pleased the Americans for Constitutional Action, but the lost in a bid for the governor's seat two years ago and returned to business as an investment counselor in Milwaukee Kasten went after incumbent Democrat Gaylord Nelson for allegedly liberal votes, charging that the intellectual legislator had been telling Wisconsin one thing and Washington another during his three terms. He accused Nelson of being weak on defense issues and of losing touch with Wisconsin voters. Kasten advocates across-the-board tax cuts along the lines of the Kemp-Roth proposal and wants additional tax breaks for small business and family farms.