Rep. Sam Gejdenson (D-Conn.) plans to introduce a bill early next year that would allow a House or Senate candidate also to appear on the ballot as a candidate for president or vice president. If enacted, it would have the same effect nationally as the Texas law that in 1988 permitted Sen. Lloyd Bentsen (D-Tex.) to run simultaneously for reelection and for the vice presidency.

One potential beneficiary who immediately comes to mind is House Majority Leader Richard A. Gephardt (D-Mo.), a friend of Gejdenson's who sought the Democratic presidential nomination in 1988. But Gejdenson was quick to say in an interview that his proposal was not a "setup" for Gephardt in 1992 and that he had not talked to Gephardt about it.

"I want to see people who have been tested, who have been around, who have a sense of history running for president," Gejdenson said. He mentioned House Speaker Thomas S. Foley (D-Wash.), Senate Majority Leader George J. Mitchell (D-Maine), Senate Minority Leader Robert J. Dole (R-Kan.) and Sen. Wyche Fowler Jr. (D-Ga.), who is up for reelection in 1992, as being among the "half-dozen or so powerful and knowledgeable people who shouldn't be excluded or have to give up an area where they have impact for a 1,000-to-1 shot."

As for Gephardt, Gejdenson said, "Dick Gephardt is one of the best candidates we could put up. It wouldn't trouble me at all if the end effect led him to run, although that is not my goal. My goal is to improve the system."

There is speculation that Gephardt, who associates say enjoys his leadership role and is reluctant to put it at risk, has not ruled out a 1992 presidential bid.

But Rep. Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.), a Gephardt ally, said, "that conversation has not taken place."

Gephardt aide David E. Dreyer, noting that Gephardt is unopposed for reelection to majority leader on Monday, said Gephardt's pledge to his colleagues not to run for president in 1992 "is intact." Dreyer said he was unaware of Gejdenson's plan.

Durbin said he likes Gejdenson's proposal. "A presidential campaign is a big gamble. Someone like Gephardt or {Sen.} Paul Simon {D-Ill.} has to watch the calendar for the last day he can file for Congress. This liberates them from that concern. It opens up the field."

Does it have a chance to pass?

"No," Durbin said. "There is no reason for a Republican to ever support this. It just opens up the field against George Bush. . . . But anything is possible."

Rep. Vic Fazio (D-Calif.), incoming chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, said while he thinks the plan worthy, he believes voters would have "very little sympathy" for it. "Their current mood is for us not to run at all," he said.