WASHINGTON – Tea Party activist Andrew Ian Dodge said Friday that he will challenge Sen. Olympia Snowe in the 2012 Republican primary.

Dodge, of Harpswell, who heads the Maine Tea Party Patriots, made his announcement at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington, D.C.

Dodge told the conservative Pajamas Media that he is “taking it to the next level as a fiscal conservative activist.”

“It is something that had to be done,” he said.

Snowe is running for a fourth term in 2012, and serves on several powerful Senate committees, including the Finance Committee.

John Richter, Snowe’s chief of staff, noted 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, D.C. — away from the people in the state of Maine he says he wants to represent,” Richter said via 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.”

The national Tea Party Express organization Thursday issued a news release announcing it was targeting Snowe for defeat in 2012. Snowe, who is known as a moderate Republican and a 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,” said Amy Kremer, chairman of the Tea Party Express, in a statement Thursday.

However, that announcement Thursday by the national Tea Party Express was unrelated to Dodge’s announcement. 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 Friday.

Snowe says she is pursuing a fiscally conservative agenda, including seeking a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution.

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.

Scott D’Amboise, a health care technician from Lisbon Falls, also says he intends to challenge Snowe in the 2012 GOP primary.

 

Washington Bureau Chief Jonathan Riskind can be contacted at 791-6280 or at: jriskind@mainetoday.com