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WRAL To Air Helms Announcement About His Future

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RALEIGH, NC — During his 29 years in the Senate, Jesse Helms has opposed abortion and advocated school prayer. Helms is widely popular with Republicans and conservative Democrats in our state, commonly known as Jessecrats, and tonight we will know whether he will remain a Senator beyond 2003.

Helms began his career as a US Senator in 1972. The North Carolina Senator is considered one of the most controversial and powerful members in the Senate, serving as a leader on the Foreign Relations Committee.

Helms' fifth term is set to end in January 2003, and if he were to make a run for a sixth term, it would be time to start raising money and assembling a campaign staff.

Years of health problems triggered speculations on whether the 79-year-old senator would seek re-election for a sixth term. Helms also had both knees replaced in 1998 and since then has used a motorized scooter to get around Capitol Hill. He first hinted at possible retirement during an April interview with CBS News.

"I haven't ruled it out yet," he said. "And I certainly haven't moved closer to running. I'm going to wait and see."

Helms will announce his plans for the future tonight on WRAL-TV5's 6:00 News.

You can watch the announcement live on WRAL.com if you cannot get home to watch it on TV.

WRAL will also air an hour-long special about the Senator starting at 8 p.m. on Wednesday, which will include David Crabtree's exclusive one-on-one interview with Helms as well as reaction from Helms' political colleagues to his announcement.

The 79-year-old Monroe native served as a commentator on WRAL during the 1960s and early '70s.

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