A New Jersey gym owner who famously risked jail and financial ruin to remain open during lockdowns is now planning to run for Congress.
Ian Smith, the co-owner of Atlis Gym in Bellmawr, tweeted that he will be “formally announcing my campaign for Congress” on Thursday.
“I am truly excited to have the possibility to serve the people of NJ with a platform focused on liberty, small government, and America First policies,” he said Sunday.
Smith became an outspoken critic of strict lockdowns early in the pandemic when he and his business partner, Frank Trumbetti, refused to close their gym in defiance of Gov. Phil Murphy’s orders — even kicking down the boarded-up doors.
Despite facing jail as well as mammoth daily fines and mounting legal costs into the millions, the pair remained open, making it an iron mecca and central figure for those fighting lockdowns and mandates.
It is an ongoing fight for the pair, with Smith revealing last week that they yet again did not have “the outcome we wanted” as they were “sentenced to a one-year term of probation” in the latest court hearing.
Smith has insisted that Atlis has never suffered a COVID outbreak, despite never asking ironheads to wear masks.
In his congressional announcement, Smith said he would stand for “people, not politicians.”
“For too long, good people have not gotten involved in politics — whether that is because the establishment won’t open the door for them or they don’t want to participate in the foul world of politics,” he wrote.
“More than anything, this needs to change. And I will be a part of that change.
“Our public officials have forgotten who they work for. Working in politics is about SERVICE, not about profit. It’s not a career, it’s a duty. Together we are going to change the culture of politics,” he vowed.
Smith — who has also been booted off flights for refusing to wear a mask — is challenging two-term Democratic Rep. Andy Kim, a former Obama White House staffer.
The bearded gym owner has hired Steve Kush, the political consultant who masterminded the shocking victory of truck driver Edward Durr over state Senate President Steve Sweeney, according to a New Jersey Globe report that Smith shared in his announcement.
“Yes, he’s serious. We have a fundraising consultant on board. I’ll be bringing in a campaign manager next week. It’s serious,” the political
Both local outlets suggested that his opponents may try to use Smith’s 2007 drunk driving crash that killed 19-year-old student Kevin Ade.
Smith, who was 20 and also a student at the time, was sentenced to more than five years in prison for vehicular homicide, the Globe noted.
He has regularly discussed it on his social media accounts, including a video confessional in May 2020 when he said there is “justifiably a great deal of hated and resentment towards me.”
“This is something I’ve been public about my whole life. I’ve never run from it nor would I ever. It’s something I accept full responsibility for,” he said at the time, saying that he did not know he was over the limit while driving after a heavy night of drinking.
“That doesn’t matter, the end results was the same: My actions caused the death of a young man and broke the hearts of an entire community.”
However, he stressed, “There’s nothing that I can do other than try to live a good life and give back.”