Cover Story: Races to Watch

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O'CONNOR v. WILSON For most of his eleven terms in Congress, Bob Wilson's 41st District in California was considered his own swimming pool. No serious competition was ever found paddling there. But now he is in danger of taking a dunking from a petite, persistent water sprite, Colleen O'Connor, 28. Once part of a water-ballet act appearing with her six sisters (she also has five brothers), Colleen now demonstrates her opposition to offshore oil rigs by swimming two miles along the beach.

Her whole family, whose views range, says one of her brothers, from "Archie Bunker to Angela Davis," help out in the campaign, which is being financed on a shoestring. Republican Wilson, 58, has tried to meet the threat of his Democratic challenger by hiring a 26-year-old woman lawyer as his campaign manager. Colleen is closing the gap.

HENSLEY v. YOUNG After winning Alaska's only congressional seat in a special election last year, Republican Don Young, 41, played a part in gaining congressional approval of the trans-Alaska pipeline.

With that triumph behind him, he thought he could coast to victory this November, particularly after receiving more votes in the primary than the two Democrats combined.

But while Young was some 3,000 miles away in Washington, Democrat Willie Hensley, 33, an Eskimo, started to catch up. After graduating from George Washington University, Hensley concentrated on lobbying for federal aid for Alaska, helped win restoration of some 40 million acres to the state's natives, was elected a state senator in 1970. Hensley, who attacks the Republican Administration in Washington for not paying proper attention to Alaska, has a better than even chance of becoming the first Eskimo in Congress.

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