Maine GOP Sen. Snowe won't seek re-election

By DAVID SHARP | February 29, 2012 | 2:36 AM EST

Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, speaks to media outside her office on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday night, Feb. 28, 2012, about her decision not to run for re-election this fall. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — Republican Olympia Snowe of Maine is taking jab at political extremes in announcing her decision to leave the U.S. Senate, saying she's frustrated by "my-way-or-the-highway" ideologies.

It's a concern she's voiced for years.

She said in April 2009 while discussing being one of a shrinking number of Senate Republicans that it's not healthy having parties with "polar opposite views without that bridge that you need to build consensus."

When U.S. Senator Arlen Spector defected to the Democrats later that month, she said the GOP tent was becoming too small and that Republicans needed to shift to the middle to "become a majority party in the future."

Snowe served 33 years in Congress including three terms in the Senate. Her departure, announced Tuesday, gives Democrats new hope of taking her seat.