WASHINGTON — Andrew Ian Dodge says he has dropped out of the Republican Party and will run for the U.S. Senate as an independent instead of challenging Sen. Olympia Snowe of Maine in the GOP primary.

That leaves Scott D’Amboise of Lisbon Falls as Snowe’s sole GOP primary challenger.

Dodge, a freelance writer from Harpswell, said in a phone interview this morning that he “won’t get fair treatment in the primary” judging by the state GOP’s handling of the Maine presidential caucuses.

Both Dodge and D’Amboise have been affiliated with the conservative tea party movement.

The state GOP had to correct a number of counting errors and omissions from straw poll result announced Feb. 11, and likely will also include the result from a postponed caucus in Washington County in the final tally after the state party committee meets March 10. Republican Mitt Romney remains ahead of Ron Paul, but the state party and Maine GOP chair Charlie Webster came in for considerable criticism over how the straw poll was run.

“I don’t think I have a place in the Republican Party in Maine right now,” Dodge said. “I don’t want to support a party that is doing everything it can to disenfranchise people.”

Dodge had yet to file a campaign finance report with the Federal Election Commission, meaning he never crossed the fundraising reporting threshold of $5,000.

D’Amboise, a health care technician, raised $473,465 last year, a seemingly large sum for a little-known challenger to the three-term Snowe.

But D’Amboise’s campaign also spent $338,120 during 2011, much of it on national fundraising appeals to conservatives who regard Snowe as too moderate. That left D’Amboise with $134,369 as of Dec. 31, according to the report his campaign filed with the Federal Election Commission.

Snowe had nearly $3.4 million on hand as of Dec. 31, after raising $629,771 for the fourth quarter. She won reelection in 2006 with 74 percent of the vote, and national analysts don’t have Snowe on their lists of vulnerable Senate incumbents.

There are four candidates running in the Democratic Senate primary: Matthew Dunlap of Old Town, a former Maine secretary of state; Jon Hinck, a state representative from Portland; state Sen. Cynthia Dill of Cape Elizabeth; and home builder Benjamin Pollard of Portland.

MaineToday Media Washington Bureau Chief Jonathan Riskind can be contacted at 791-6280 or at: [email protected] Twitter: Twitter.com/MaineTodayDC

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