Another Democratic senator, Russell D. Feingold of Wisconsin, also announced Friday that he would vote against Mr. Bernanke.
The shift comes rather abruptly, and has added a new element of uncertainty to a stock market that had already been reeling in recent days. The S&P 500 fell into the red for the year on Friday, joining the Dow and Nasdaq .
"The unthinkable has become a very real possibility -- risks are rising that the Senate will unseat (him)," said Michael Feroli, economist at JP Morgan.
Bernanke and the Fed have been under unusually intense criticism for failing to anticipate and prevent the financial meltdown of 2008 and for helping engineer the ensuing massive government bailout.
Lawmakers may have further reservations about supporting him after recent allegations that the Fed may have improperly pressured insurer AIG to keep some information relating to its government bailout quiet.
“I would not vote to reconfirm Ben Bernanke,” says senate candidate Peter Schiff on Fast Money.
If Mr. Bernanke is not confirmed, his term as chairman will expire on Jan. 31. However, he would remain a member of the board of governors, as he holds a separate 14-year appointment that does not expire until 2020.
CNBC has learned that Fed Vice Chairman Donald Kohn would take over, at least temporarily, if Bernanke fails to win confirmation when his term expires.
Here's where things stand as of Friday 1/22 5pm ET.
Yes - 18
No - 12
Undecided - 17
As you can imagine the Fast Money traders have a lot to say about these developements. Watch the video below for more.
Got something to to say? Send us an e-mail at email@example.com and your comment might be posted on the Rapid Recap. If you'd prefer to make a comment but not have it published on our website send those e-mails to firstname.lastname@example.org.
CNBC.com with wires