Experience counts, but for what? It may count against members of Congress seeking other office.

Since the 101st Congress began in January 1989, 19 House members have sought statewide office. Of that, 12 are still in the running, six have been bounced and only one has made it so far: Democrat James J. Florio, who was elected governor of New Jersey last year.

Florio defeated a House colleague, Rep. Jim Courter, R-N.J. Also failing in a 1989 gubernatorial pursuit was Rep. Stan Parris, R-Va.

This year, Democratic gubernatorial primaries have frustrated Reps. Ronnie G. Flippo in Alabama, Bill Nelson in Florida and Wes Watkins in Oklahoma. Republicans in Arkansas said no to the gubernatorial aspirations of Rep. Tommy Robinson.

House members still in the hunt for governorships this year are Joseph E. Brennan, D-Maine, Bruce A. Morrison, D-Conn., and John G. Rowland, R-Conn. Rep. Mike DeWine is the GOP nominee for lieutenant governor in Ohio.

The other eight statewide candidates from the House are running for Senate seats: Hank Brown, R-Colo.; Larry E. Craig, R-Idaho; Lynn Martin, R-Ill.; Patricia Saiki, R-Hawaii; Claudine Schneider, R-R.I.; Bill Schuette, R-Mich.; Robert C. Smith, R-N.H.; and Tom Tauke, R-Iowa.

A survey by Times Mirror Inc., released Sept. 19, indicates that the lack of success experienced by House members may be no accident. The survey points to a "significant upswing in (public) feelings of mistrust of political leaders, disillusionment with politics and feelings of powerlessness" since 1987, when the level of voter alienation was already high.

The Times Mirror surveyors said "the vast majority of the public expressed the view that elected officials in Washington lose touch with the public; an increased majority of the public feels that people like themselves have no say in what the government does; and fewer Americans feel that elected officials care what they think."

(Distributed by Scripps Howard News Service)