WASHINGTON, D.C. — Making his announcement at a conservative conference in Washington, D.C., Tea Party activist Andrew Ian Dodge said today he will challenge Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, in the 2012 GOP primary.

Dodge, who heads the Maine Tea Party Patriots, made his announcement at the Conservative Political Action Conference, the Washington Post reported this afternoon.

In an interview with Pajamas Media, posted on the Internet, Dodge said he is running as a fiscal conservative activist.

The national Tea Party Express organization on Thursday issued a press release announcing it was targeting Snowe for defeat in 2012. Snowe, who will be seeking her fourth term in the Senate and is known as a moderate Republican and key vote on many issues, is one of several Tea Party targets for 2012, the group said.

“Olympia Snowe dishonors the notion that the Republican Party is supposed to be the fiscally conservative, constitutionalist political party in America. She voted for the bailouts, the failed stimulus plan, the repeal of tax cuts and showed her disdain for the Constitution by voting in favor of the nominations of Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court,” said Amy Kremer, chairwoman of the Tea Party Express, in a statement Thursday.

However, that announcement Thursday by the national Tea Party Express had nothing to do with today’s announcement by Dodge. The Tea Party Express has had “no discussions” with Dodge about him challenging Snowe, said Levi Russell, a Tea Party Express spokesman, in an interview this afternoon.

Snowe serves on several powerful committees, including the Senate Finance Committee. Snowe says she is pursuing a fiscally conservative agenda, including seeking a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution.

Snowe’s chief of staff, John Richter, noted this afternoon that Dodge made his announcement in Washington, not Maine.

“It seems ironic that a candidate who says Senator Snowe is out of touch formally announces his own candidacy at a conference in Washington – away from the people in the state of Maine he says he wants to represent,” Richter said in an e-mail. “Looking forward, Senator Snowe has never taken any race for granted and 2012 is no exception – and she is vigorously preparing in all facets.”

Newly elected GOP Gov. Paul LePage, who received Tea Party backing, already has said he intends to endorse Snowe, saying he had a long personal relationship with Snowe’s late husband.

A former congressional candidate, Scott D’Ambroise, also has said he will take on Snowe in the GOP primary.