Alan Wheat, the smooth black congressman-elect from Kansas City, has a big pair of shoes to fill.

At 32, he will arrive in Washington as the successor to Democratic Rep. Richard Bolling, the retiring chairman of the House Rules Committee and a commanding figure in the House for many years. Bolling was first elected from Kansas City's 5th Congressional District four years before Wheat was born.

But Wheat comes well prepared. For the past six years he has been in the Missouri legislature, where he won a variety of citations from colleagues and the press for skillful work.

One of his proudest achievements was sponsorship and passage of an urban enterprise zone bill, which was designed to revitalize inner-city neighborhoods by attracting new business.

That bill earned him a high rating from the Kansas City chamber of commerce, but in general he is an ally of organized labor and benefited from labor's support in his campaign against liberal Republican state Rep. John Sharp.

Wheat tried to make the election a referendum as much on Bolling as on Ronald Reagan, arguing that the issue was who best could carry on Bolling's liberal legacy.

But he is no blind adherent of traditional Democratic policies and argues that the big spending of the past must be reexamined in the light of today's budgetary shortages.

He is a critic of the Defense Department and argued in the campaign that the president's military budget should be reduced sharply.

Wheat's most difficult test this year came in a crowded Democratic primary, when he surprised and worried many Democratic leaders by defeating seven other opponents. Party officials feared that Wheat might have trouble winning the Democratic district where less than a quarter of the people are minorities.

But Wheat pursuaded nervous Democrats they had little to worry about and proved correct with his victory.