‘People, not politicians’: Defiant NJ gym owner Ian Smith announces run for Congress

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The story of politics in America cannot be told without countless instances of citizens driven to despair by incompetent politicians deciding to throw their hat into the ring, with the latest example of this being seen in New Jersey.

Ian Smith, the embattled owner of Atilis Gym in Bellmawr, announced in a tweet that he is running for Congress, becoming the second Republican to enter the race.

“This Thursday 2/3 I’ll be formally announcing my campaign for Congress in NJ CD-3 against [U.S. Rep. Andy Kim, D-NJ]. 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,” Smith tweeted.

“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,” Smith wrote on Facebook. “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,’ he continued. “Together we are going to change the culture of politics. More ordinary citizens. Less career politicians. It starts in 2022.”

The announcement coming as Smith was sentenced this week for defying lockdown mandates to keep his gym open throughout the pandemic, with Smith and co-owner Frank Trumbetti even kicking down the boarded up doors — he was sentenced to one year of probation this week

“Thanks to all who joined in on our sentencing hearing,” Smith posted on Twitter. “So many came that the server crashed. We got one year probation for the crime of taking our doors off to prevent government goons from locking us out of our gym. @theatilisgym is open and will remain open at any cost.”

If his announcement on pursuing “America First” policies didn’t tip off his political views, Smith offered this tease the day before making his announcement:

Smith became a national face in his efforts to defy Gov. Phil Murphy’s lockdown orders, facing jail and daily fines, in addition to massive legal costs into the millions of dollars, according to reports.

The great irony being that those who are obese and out of shape are most at risk when it comes to COVID-19, while those who are healthy and in good shape weather the virus far better.

He and his partner were arrested in late July 2020 and were hit with $1.2 million in fines by the end of the year. Smith appeared on Fox News last year and explained that New Jersey seized his assets, calling the action unconstitutional.

“My partner and I checked the bank statement in the morning… The state took every dollar that we have… The money in our bank account does not come from memberships… This is donations and t-shirt sales… It is a clear and blatant violation of our constitutional laws to defend ourselves,” he told Fox News’ Tucker Carlson.

Smith has hired Steve Kush, the political consultant behind truck driver Edward Durr’s stunning victory over state Senate President Steve Sweeney, according to a New Jersey Globe.

“Yes, he’s serious,” Kush told New Jersey 101.5. “We have a fundraising consultant on board. I’ll be bringing in a campaign manager next week. It’s serious.”

Robert Healey, Jr., the wealthy 38-year-old owner of a yacht manufacturing company who led a punk rock band as a young adult, is already in the race, the Globe reported. Healey raised over $500,000 in the last two months of 2021.

Tom Tillison


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