The Federal Election Commission ruled yesterday that former senator Gary Hart (D-Colo.) is not eligible to receive federal matching funds for his aborted 1988 presidential campaign. The commission's vote was 5 to 1, with Chairman Scott Thomas supporting Hart's position.

Hart has 30 days to challenge the decision. He would need to switch three votes to reverse the ruling. The FEC decision will become final after the second vote.

The FEC said Hart was no longer a candidate when his application for federal funds was submitted May 18. Hart had announced May 8 that he was withdrawing from the race. Hart campaign attorney Donald Simon argues that "a mere fortuity of timing is being used to deprive" Hart of matching funds. Hart's application to the FEC included a statement of candidacy signed by him May 4, four days before his withdrawal announcement. Simon said May 4 should be considered the date of application.

Hart raised $2 million for his 1988 campaign for the Democratic nomination. And aides contend he should receive about $900,000 in matching funds. Hart's 1988 campaign deficit was reported to the FEC as $313,000, and he has a $1.3 million debt from his 1984 presidential campaign.

Simon said that if the FEC rejected Hart's appeal, he can go to the U.S. Court of Appeals.The Private Life of Richard Celeste

Ohio Gov. Richard F. Celeste, who is considering a bid for the Democratic presidential nomination, said that a newspaper article this week linking him romantically to three women other than his wife will not affect his decision.

The article Wednesday in the Cleveland Plain Dealer reported that "close advisers" of Celeste fear womanizing could become an issue for him if he runs for president. The article quoted unidentified sources as saying Celeste, 49, had been involved with the three women since the early 1970s, most recently in 1985. The women were not identified.

Celeste responded that questions about his personal life are inappropriate. "Twenty-five years ago, Dagmar and I made a choice to get married for better and for worse . . . , " Celeste said at a news conference. "I believe our personal lives are just that. It's between me and Dagmar, between me and my kids . . . . That's where I intend to keep it."

Dagmar Celeste said, "I feel that the greatest gift you can give if you love somebody is forgiveness . . . . I think the press as well as we are learning what is appropriate and what is not appropriate -- the specifics, the details, the whens, the hows, the whats -- I think that's between me and him."

In a statement, Plain Dealer publisher and editor Thomas Vail said: "We have been working on this story for some time and decided to publish after the governor told a news conference on Monday that he did not have a 'Gary Hart-type personal problem.' "

Most of Ohio's major Democratic officeholders have refused to comment on the political consequences for Celeste. But Cuyahoga County GOP Commissioner Robert Hughes said, "The Plain Dealer article has made the governor's personal life an issue. Therefore, it will affect his possible candidacy."Switching Bandwagons

It was not unexpected, but now it's official. Paul Tully, who was Hart's national political director, is now Massachusetts Gov. Michael S. Dukakis' national political director. Eli Segal, Hart's national finance chairman; Hart adviser Alice Travis; Oregon state Rep. Tom Mason, Hart's Oregon coordinator, and John Peterson, chairman of Hart's Illinois campaign, also will be part of Dukakis' presidential campaign as will California fund-raiser Philip Schaefer. Others who may join Dukakis include Tully's deputy Joe Trippi, Hart issues director David Dreyer and Teresa Vilmain, Hart's Iowa coordinator.