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HEFLIN LEAVING SENATE AFTER SERVING 3 TERMS

Alabama Sen. Howell Heflin announced Wednesday he plans to retire, adding to the difficulty Democrats will face in trying to recapture the Senate next year. He is the fourth Democrat to bow out so far.

It is time "to pass the torch to another generation," said Heflin, who is completing his third six-year term.

Heflin, 73, has suffered from a series of medical problems in the past two years, but he insisted his health was good and his doctors had assured him he faces "no predictable crisis."

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