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.