AUGUSTA, Maine — A primary challenger to U.S. Sen. Olympia Snowe and a self-proclaimed tea partier has unenrolled from the Republican party in the wake of the state GOP’s recent caucuses.
Andrew Ian Dodge of Harpswell announced on Tuesday that he was severing ties with his party but said he plans to remain in the Senate race as an independent.
Dodge told the liberal website Talking Point Memo that the Maine Republican Party’s handling of its recent presidential caucuses was the last straw.
The Maine GOP has been criticized for declaring Mitt Romney the winner of a presidential preference poll on Feb. 11 before all the results were gathered.
The party also later admitted to clerical errors that resulted in some communities being omitted from the results. Among those errors were that some results that were emailed to the party ended up in the spam folder.
The Maine GOP has made amends by updating those results, but there is still some animosity that could generate discussion at the next state committee meeting on March 10. The Waldo County Republicans last week recommended a censure of party Chairman Charlie Webster.
Dodge was particularly critical of Webster in his comments.
“Webster patronized and belittled members of his own party to save his own skin. And his excuse the results were in the ‘spam folder’ … well, that is so bad it’s beyond comment,” Dodge told Talking Points Memo. “I have no idea whether it is because of corruption or ineptitude
but the handling of it made it worse and made it look like it was corruption.”
With Dodge out of the Republican race, Scott D’Amboise of Lisbon Falls is the sole GOP challenger to Snowe.
Neither Dodge nor D’Amboise are considered serious challengers to Snowe by political observers, but the three-term senator is taking the race seriously and has been raising money accordingly. Her most recent campaign finance report showed her with $3.4 million in cash raised, much more than any other candidate.
Four Democrats — former Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap, state Rep. Jon Hinck of Portland and state Sen. Cynthia Dill of Cape Elizabeth and Benjamin Pollard, a Portland home builder — will compete in a June primary.