State Sen. Gary K. Hart (D-Santa Barbara) announced Monday that he will run for a third term but kept open the possibility he may run for Congress in 1992.
In a press release, Hart said "the next four years will be a particularly important time to serve in the state Legislature" because Republican Gov. George Deukmejian is leaving office.
But Hart, who is expected to easily beat Republican neophyte Carey Rogers in the November election, may run for Congress in 1992, said his campaign coordinator, Nels Henderson. Hart would still retain his Senate seat if he lost his congressional bid.
"Running for Congress is being considered, but it's not a foregone conclusion," Henderson said. "There's still a lot he wants to do, like expand the bottle bill to include recycling orange juice bottles and other plastics and glassware."
In 1988, Hart came within 4,000 votes of unseating veteran Rep. Robert J. Lagomarsino (R-Ventura) in the nation's second-costliest race, with the two sides spending a total of about $3 million.
Late last year, Hart announced that he would not seek a rematch against the popular incumbent.
Instead, Hart will refrain from deciding whether to run for Congress until after the governor and state Legislature redraw congressional districts following the 1990 Census, said a close Democratic ally who asked not to be identified.
California is expected to gain four to six seats, and the configuration of the 18th Congressional District represented by Lagomarsino may change significantly.
Hart's only opponent in the state Senate election is Rogers, 49, a Goleta bank executive and the mother of two children. She has never held public office.
A spokesman for Rogers said Hart, who chairs the Senate Education Committee and is a former teacher educated at Stanford and Harvard, lacks practical experience outside of government.
The 19th Senate District extends from Santa Barbara through Ventura, Oxnard and Port Hueneme to Topanga and part of Woodland Hills.