Helms hanging it up on WRAL news

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Sen. Jesse Helms (R-N.C.) is expected to announced his retirement on Raleigh, N.C.'s WRAL-TV 5 during Wednesday's 6 o'clock news.

Helms, 79, was a commentator at the station in the 60s and early 70s. Helms' fifth term is up in January 2003, which will mark 30 years in the Senate. Washington politicos have been speculating about his possible retirement for weeks, with names of people who might run for his seat already floating in the press.

The highest profile person to be considering a run is Elizabeth Dole, 65, former presidential candidate, former president of the American Red Cross and former secretary of labor and transportation during the Reagan and Bush administrations. The Associated Press on Tuesday reported that high-level Republicans - such as White House strategist Karl Rove and Sen. Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) - are encouraging Dole to run for the seat, although she will face stiff competition.

Rep. Richard Burr, former Sen. Lauch Faircloth and Charlotte's former mayor, Richard Vinroot, all are considering entering the race. - Paige Albiniak

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