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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