Mike Spears, a Lafayette businessman and political independent who's running against Republican David Vitter for his U.S. Senate seat, challenged the senator on Sept. 8 to a martial-arts cage wrestling match at the Cajundome "to restore the honor of Louisiana and this nation as well."
Vitter, who easily dispatched his two Republican challengers in the Aug. 28 primary, is the frontrunner in polls and in fundraising. Spears was among his opponents the night before at a forum at Loyola University, at which Spears claimed Vitter "admitted he broke the law" at a press conference after Vitter's phone number was connected with the records of Deborah Jeane Palfrey, the infamous and now-deceased "D.C. Madam."
Spears, who owns a website design firm, made waves in Louisiana GOP circles in April when he announced his intention to take on Vitter, running as an independent and "constitutional conservative." At the time, his announcement was carried in many state newspapers and he was interviewed on several radio programs. He told Gambit at the time, "I am running as an independent, not as a representative of the Tea Party. What I am saying is that my ideals and beliefs are consistent with the Tea Party, and it's an affiliation I'm proud to say I'm a part of."
Omitted from Spears' website and resume at the time was his second career as "The Dog Designer," in which he created five-figure custom canine couture with names like "The Little Socialite Collection" for Yorkies and other pocket pooches. When Gambit reported on the side business, Spears said he had put aside the company, Molle Teche, when the recession hit. (The Molle Teche website is now defunct.)
In April, he told Gambit, "I have seen a lot of commentary from the strong Vitter supporters, and the feeling is: 'Finally. Wow. We have a choice.'" But the revelation about his dog-design business may have hurt Spears, whose public profile sputtered quickly after an initial flurry of interest.
On his most recent filing with the Federal Election Commission, Spears had received only $9,410 in individual contributions — less than half the money required to buy "The Queen's Obsession," his own custom-made, four-poster dog bed with a Swarovski crystal chandelier. — Kevin Allman