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Key contests that may shape next year's Congress; Democratic Congress, but thinner majority

Democrats have controlled Congress for all but two of the 24 two-year sessions since the Republicans were swept out in Franklin Roosevelt's presidential victory of 1932. The last Congress organized by the GOP was the 83 d, the first two years of Dwight Eisenhower's first term as president.

Indications are that the Republican Party, despite a well-organized, well-financed attempt, will fall short of gaining a majority in either House or Senate. Most informed estimates have the GOP picking up from 12 to 25 seats in the House of Representatives and from 2 to 5 the Senate. They need to gain 59 to take control of the House, 10 for the Senate (9 if the new vice-president is a Republican).

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But with many veterans in close contests, the makeup of the 94th Congress could be significantly affected.

Some key contests other than those described in other articles on this page:

New York: Sen. Jacob Javits, the veteran Republican liberal who was denied renomination in the state's GOP primary, is running under the Liberal Party banner. Recent polls indicate that, with Javits and Congresswoman Elizabeth Holtzman, the Democratic nominee, splitting the same constituency, Republican candidate Alfonse D' Amato may well win.

Idaho: Democratic Sen. Frank Chruch, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations committee and a prime target of the GOP this year, is fighting an uphill battle for reelection to a fifth term against Republican Congressman Steven Symms.

South Dakota: Democratic Sen. George McGovern has struggled back from what many though was sure defeat and now has hopes of edging out his GOP opponent, US Rep. James Abnoor.

Colorado: First-term Democratic Sen. Gary Hart, once trailing Colorado's Republican Secretary of State Mary Estill Buchanan, has scratched his way back into the race. It is now "too close to call."

Connecticut: US Rep. Christopher Dodd (D), is favored over Republicanformer James Buckley, former senator from New York, in the race to succeed retiring Sen. Abraham Ribicoff (D).

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Pennsylvania: The contest between Republican Arlen Specter, former Philadelphia district attorney, and Democrat Pete Flaherty, former mayor of Pittsburgh, to succeed retiring Sen. Richard Schweiker (R) is a tossup."

Oregon: Congressman Al Ullman (D), chairman of the House Ways and Means committee, is battling a formidable Republican challenger, newspaper publisher Denny Smith, and independent, anti-nuclear candidate Lloyd King Marbet, just might siphon off enough liberal votes to permit Smith to edge the 12-term incumbent.

Arizona: US Rep. Morris Udall (D) is fighting the liability of a changing contituency in his race against Republican real estate developer Richard Huff. Libertarian candidate William Stefanov is not considered a major factor.

Indiana: House majority whip John Brademus (D) of Indiana is considered vulnerable in his race against Republican John P. Hiler.

New Jersey: Frank Thompson Jr., a 26-year House veteran, faces an Abscam indictment and some disarray in the Democratic political organization. Despite these handicaps, few expect him to lose to Republican Christopher smith.

Massachusetts: Liberal Democratic state Rep. Barney Frank is expected to defeat Republican Richard Jones for the seat vacated by congressman Robert Drinan (D), a Roman Catholic priest forced to give up his post by an edict of Pope John Paul II.

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