Lafayette entrepreneur Mike Spears is throwing his hat in the ring for this fall's U.S. Senate election, becoming the latest potential spoiler for what has been shaping up as a two-man race between incumbent Republican David Vitter and his Democratic challenger, Congressman Charlie Melancon. Running as an independent, Spears will bypass the party primaries and appear on the general election ballot in November. It's the 46 year-old IT executive's first bid for public office.

Spears is scheduled to formally declare his candidacy at a press conference this afternoon, but the announcement is already posted on his Web site. “It's no accident I've chosen this historic day to announce my candidacy,” Spears says in his news release, referencing April 19, 1775, the day the first shots were fired in the American Revolutionary War. “Washington is awash in corruption and excessive spending. Lawmakers disregard the constitution and defy the American people’s will. It's time to re-ignite the fight for liberty. It’s time to take the tea party to the halls of Congress. It’s time to take back our country.”

A veteran of the National Guard and self-decribed conservative independent, Spears is the founder and president of the local Web development firm Firefly Digital. He's also been active with several other ventures, ranging from civic initiatives in Lafayette's IT community to a short-lived blog about hiking the Appalachian Trail to launching a designer dog furniture business. On his campaign Web site, Spears lists the following "five star plan for reform": neutralize partisan strongholds, restore Constitutional integrity, reform the legislative process, restore the balance of powers and return to "one nation under God."

Spears is launching his campaign well behind in the fundraising department. In the most recent filings with the Federal Elections Commision, Vitter reports having $5 million in his campaign war chest; Melancon has $2.2 million. Spears could not be reached for comment this morning.

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