Sen. Paul S. Trible Jr. (R-Va.), moving to spike suspicions that he would use a $1.4 million political war chest to finance a 1989 gubernatorial campaign, said yesterday he will return the money to donors or give it away.

Trible's sudden announcement Saturday that he would not seek reelection to the Senate at first surprised his fellow Republicans, then turned some of them angry. Several prominent party members, including potential rivals for the party's gubernatorial nomination, predicted that support for Trible would erode if he kept the substantial campaign treasury he has amassed for his presumed, then suddenly aborted, Senate campaign.

Trible said he is leaving the Senate to spend more time with his family, but he has not ruled out running for governor or other office.

"None of this money will be used by me for any future campaign, period," Trible said in an interview yesterday. "I have no hidden agenda.

"I understand that there will be those {contributors} who want their money back. And for those who don't, we'll allow them to determine how the money will be used. It seems to me this honors my responsibility to all parties involved."

Federal election laws allow Trible to convert any leftover campaign money to other political uses or to donate it to charity. It would also be legal for Trible to pocket the money for personal use, but it would violate Senate rules.

Trible said that as soon as possible he plans to send letters to his 7,000 contributors asking them how they would like their donations to be disposed of. He will give them four options: Have their money returned to them, give it to the Republican Party of Virginia, give it to the National Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee or give it to charity.

Because of campaign expenses, Trible said, none of the donors will get back all of the money they gave. But he said the campaign will begin immediately disposing of at least $1 million.

Trible had raised a total of about $1.4 million for his aborted reelection effort. He said that the campaign fund has spent about $150,000 -- most of it to purchase television time for his Saturday speech announcing his withdrawal -- and that some other debts have yet to be paid.

"If there is any money left over after we have closed everything out, that will also be disposed of as contributors have designated," Trible said. "I anticipate it will be some time next year before this is complete, but we want to do it as quickly as possible. Then I can put this behind me and move on."

By giving contributors the option to send their money to the Virginia Republican Party or the National Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee, Trible is trying to placate two vocal constituencies within the GOP.

The state GOP would like to use part of the money to support its candidates for the state legislature in November's election. While federal election law would allow Trible himself to donate a maximum of $5,000 to the GOP candidate seeking his seat, Virginia GOP Chairman Donald W. Huffman said the party's Senatorial Committee can give up to $400,000 to the candidate.

Huffman, of Roanoke, said yesterday that he had suggested that Trible divest himself of his campaign funds. "This ought to quiet the critics," Huffman said. "It takes care of everything.

"Those who are claiming he kept the money to run for governor will be stilled. It takes care of the {state} party. And the people who say he ought to give it to the Senate candidate are taken care of, too."