Rep. Gary Condit will not run for an eighth term in office, a source close to the embattled California congressman told Fox News on Friday.
Condit is planning to announce his decision in the next few weeks, the source said. He intends to remain in office until January 2003, the end of his seventh term.
However, Condit aide Mike Dayton denied Friday that the Democratic congressman had made a decision about retiring. Dayton previously told Fox News that Condit did not have an affair with missing federal intern Chandra Levy.
The source told Fox News that Condit made his decision in the last 24 hours.
Condit aides have recently said that their boss would proceed with his annual "Condit Country" fundraiser next month to prepare for another campaign.
But now, reportedly in an effort to cool the political heat on him and get the media off his back, Condit hopes to quietly finish up his term as a lame-duck congressman.
The congressman reportedly has discussed with his family the option of immediate resignation. But Condit, a member of the House Agricultural Committee, said he has some legislative work he would like to complete before he retires. He is also said to be taking very seriously the opinion of friends and advisers that think he should retire.
Moreover, some of Condit's financial supporters have reportedly told him they would not back him if he ran again. Condit will also get a larger pension the longer he stays on.
The congressman's decision likely had much to do with his family's wishes. In a recent interview on Larry King Live, Condit's son Chad suggested that his father should retire. Condit's daughter, Cadee, said she is "torn" on the issue.
It may also be due to the unlikelihood that he would be re-elected. A recent poll in the Modesto Bee found that less than a third of his constituents would vote for Condit if he ran again. And California lawmakers recently unveiled a proposal that would carve out much of Condit's district, significantly reducing his support base.
Condit's decision may also be due to Republican interest in an ethics investigation into his handling of the Levy case. Others say the turning point was the frosty reception he received in Congress Thursday, his first day back after a summer break.
Many Democrats were angered by Condit's Aug. 23 interview with Connie Chung, in which the married, 53-year-old congressman admitted to having had a close relationship with Levy, but refused to confess that they had an affair.
Law enforcement authorities and members of Levy's family have said that Condit did have a romantic relationship with his 24-year-old constituent.
In an interview with the St. Louis-Post Dispatch, House Minority Leader Richard A. Gephardt, D-Mo., described Condit's performance during the Chung interview as "disturbing and wrong," and suggested Condit may be forced to relinquish his seat on the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.
Democratic leaders were reportedly hoping that the Chung interview would clear Condit's name a bit, preventing them from having to step in and put political pressure on the congressman. Instead they were disappointed when the face-off exacerbated the scandal.
It is beneficial to Democrats, however, for Condit to complete his current term. Condit's congressional seat is in a fairly Republican stronghold, so if he gave up the seat, a special election would take place and most likely go to a Republican.
Meanwhile, the Stanislaus County grand jury has reached a decision on whether to investigate allegations that Condit obstructed justice. It is unclear what the decision is at this time.
The charge relates to a claim by flight attendant Anne Marie Smith. She says Condit asked her to sign an affidavit stating they didn't have an affair. Smith says they had a 10-month romance.