This is a banner year for women candidates for statewide offices, according to the National Women's Political Caucus, which is having a three-day convention here this week. A record number of women are running or expected to run for governor -- 17 in 12 of the 36 states that have gubernatorial races this year -- while seven are running for the U.S. Senate and more than 50 for the House of Representatives.

At least two of the women running for the Senate now are front-runners in current polls -- Rep. Barbara A. Mikulski (D-Md.) and Democratic Lt. Gov. Harriet Woods of Missouri, according to Ann Lewis, director of the Americans for Democratic Action. Linda Chavez, the conservative and controversial White House public liaison director, will join the ranks of female candidates when she resigns her post next week to run for the Republican Senate nomination in Maryland. Sen. Paula Hawkins (R-Fla.) is in a close race with Gov. Bob Graham.

One of the candidates, Rep. Bobbi Fiedler (R-Calif.), who is running for the GOP nomination to oppose Sen. Alan Cranston, was indicted last week on bribery charges. She said this week that she intends to prove her innocence, unseat Cranston and marry her codefendant, top aide Paul Clarke, to whom she recently became engaged. They are charged with offering to pay off the $100,000 campaign debt of rival candidate Ed Davis if he would drop out of the race.

Ten women have already declared for governor, including former House member Patsy Mink (D) in Hawaii, and Gov. Madeleine Kunin (D), who is running for reelection in Vermont. Seven others are considering gubernatorial races; in Nebraska, four women -- two Democrats, two Republicans -- are considering the race for governor.