Sen. Snowe to see election challenge from tea party organizer

Posted Feb. 11, 2011, at 11:32 a.m.
Last modified Feb. 11, 2011, at 9:04 p.m.
Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine
AP File Photo
Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine

AUGUSTA, Maine — A tea party activist who months ago tried to create a buzz about an undeclared Republican opponent to Sen. Olympia Snowe in 2012 finally revealed Friday the identity of the challenger: himself.

Andrew Ian Dodge of Harpswell announced his plans not in Maine but at a conference for political conservatives in Washington, D.C.

“I think she needs to have a proper fiscal conservative running against her,” Dodge said by telephone Friday afternoon.

In many ways, the unconventional announcement was typical Dodge, a freelance science fiction writer and libertarian who appears to enjoy the media spotlight.

In December, Dodge got the attention of mostly Capitol Hill publications when he began talking about an unnamed challenger to Snowe, a three-term moderate Republican who remains popular among most Maine voters. There were widespread rumors at the time that Dodge was speaking about himself, but he repeatedly dodged the question, all the while obviously enjoying the buzz.

Asked Friday whether that strategy was risky, he replied, “There is a risk in any strategy in politics.”

Dodge, who is Maine coordinator for the national Tea Party Patriots, often attracts national media attention for his outspokenness. But he appears to have lukewarm-to-weak support among some of the other boots-on-the-ground tea party leaders in his home state.

“In my opinion, he has not contributed much to the tea party movement in the state,” Pete “The Carpenter” Harring, a prominent member of the Maine Refounders and Maine Tea Party, said back in December when asked about Dodge.

Dodge is one of two declared GOP candidates — the other being Scott D’Amboise of Lisbon Falls — planning to go up against Snowe. Any challenger is expected to face a stiff fight against Snowe, a formidable and well-financed campaigner whose reputation as a moderate has hurt her among conservative Republicans but seemingly not among most Mainers.

And on the surface, Dodge is certainly not your typical Republican candidate.

Frequently dressed in black, with long hair, Dodge runs a blog — Dodgeblogium — for “bloggers who combine a taste for heavy metal music with a taste for heavy metal politics.” He is the author of several books, including “Statism Sucks!” and the sequel, “Socialism Still Sucks!”

Dodge said he is constantly being urged to run by his friends and political associates, and he said tea party activists across the country already have offered to donate to his campaign.

“I’ve lived and breathed the core tea party values: free market, limited government and being a fiscal conservative,” he said.

As for his critics in Maine, Dodge fired back that he organized the first tea party event in the state and said they should bring on the fight.

“These are the same people who, the minute [Gov. Paul] LePage backed Snowe, they backed Snowe,” he said.

Dodge and D’Amboise may not be the only challengers to Maine’s senior senator. On Thursday, the national group Tea Party Express, which raised millions of dollars last year to knock off moderate Republicans, announced that they were planning to help fight Snowe.

Snowe’s staff has said the senator is certainly aware of the possibility of a primary challenger next year but that she is focusing on the economy and issues important to voters.

“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,” John Richter, chief of staff to Snowe, said in a statement Friday. “Looking forward, Senator Snowe has never taken any race for granted, and 2012 is no exception — and she is vigorously preparing in all facets.”

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