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Gary Condit Discloses His Plans To Leave Congress at End of Term

By Juliet Eilperin

Rep. Gary Condit, D-Calif., has privately informed colleagues that he is leaning toward retiring from Congress at the end of his current term, several Democrats said.

Condit raised the prospect of his retirement over the August recess, sources said, in the course of regular talks with Democrats about California’s redistricting process. Condit emphasized that he would like to make the decision on his own timetable, rather than bowing to pressure from party leaders, said sources who insisted on anonymity.

The conversations represent the first sign from Condit that he is rethinking his political future. Condit, who did not return calls seeking comment, has not said publicly whether he would run for re-election.

Previously, some Condit aides have said he planned to seek an eighth term and that he intended to proceed with his annual “Condit Country” fundraiser next month.

However, his grown son suggested in an interview on CNN’s “Larry King Live” this week that he should retire, and his daughter said she was “torn” on whether he should run again.

Democratic leaders increasingly view Condit as unelectable and a political liability because of questions about his relationship with missing intern Chandra Levy. At the same time, they are not eager to punish him or have him resign suddenly and prompt a special election they could lose.

Most Democrats, who had expressed qualified support for Condit before the August recess, continued to treat him cordially this week as Congress returned to work. Several members spoke to him at length Wednesday night during votes, though those interviewed said they did not broach the question of his political future.

Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-Calif., said the two discussed their families, as well as the redistricting process. “This is a brutal business,” said Eshoo, a close friend of Condit’s.