State Sen. Gary K. Hart, who considered trying to turn his familiar name into a successful campaign for governor, backed out of the 1986 race for governor Thursday, saying, “the timing is not right.”
Hart, a 41-year-old Santa Barbara Democrat, said he will run for reelection to the Senate next year, a move that could aid Democratic efforts to retain control of the upper house.
“While encouraged by the support I’ve received, I’ve concluded that the timing is not right for me to run for governor in 1986,” Hart said in a statement.
He said it is possible to defeat Republican Gov. George Deukmejian, but “it will obviously be an uphill battle for any Democrat.
“By remaining in the Senate, I can help withstand Republican plans to take over the Senate and can continue to put forward legislative proposals consistent with my vision of what California should be,” Hart added.
Hart, who shares a famous name with U.S. Sen. Gary F. Hart (D-Colo.) the runner-up for the Democratic presidential nomination in 1984, said several months ago that he was considering a run for governor next year.
Might Have Faced Bradley
He would have faced challenges. First, he probably would have had to defeat Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley for the Democratic nomination. Then he would have had to take on Deukmejian, who is doing well in popularity polls.
Because Hart’s Senate term expires next year, he would have had to give up that post to run for governor.
Hart’s decision to get out of the race probably helps another ambitious young senator, John Garamendi of Walnut Grove, who lost the Democratic gubernatorial nomination to Bradley in 1982 and has indicated that he plans to run again.
Garamendi, who won a new four-year Senate term last year, will not have to give up his legislative seat if he launches another gubernatorial campaign.
Hart’s announcement is bad news for Senate Republicans, who were hoping to pick up his seat next year and increase their chances of taking control of the upper house by 1990, before lawmakers decide whether the next reapportionment will favor Democrats or Republicans.
Democrats have a 25-15 edge in the Senate, but 16 of the 20 Senate seats up for grabs next year are held by Democrats, raising Republican hopes for a takeover.