NJ gym owner who defied Covid lockdowns is running for Congress

Ian Smith, the gym owner from New Jersey who refused to comply with the blue state’s strict Covid-19 lockdowns, formally announced his candidacy for Congress on Thursday.

“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 in his announcement.

Democrat Gov. Phil Murphy (right) ordered all businesses he deemed “non-essential” to lockdown during the 2020 Covid-19 shutdowns. Atilis Gym co-owners Ian Smith (left) and Frank Trumbetti refused to close their gym, saying they never had a Covid-19 outbreak.

In May 2020, Democrat Gov. Phil Murphy ordered all “non-essential businesses” to shut down due to Covid-19. Ian Smith, the co-owner of Atilis Gym in Bellmawr, refused to comply and close his business.

Smith and Atilis co-owner Frank Trumbetti were later arrested for defying the governor’s orders. The gym owners were issued 60 citations and fined a total of $1.2 million for keeping their business open.

In their latest court hearing last week, Smith and Trumbetti received one year of probation.

Atilis Gym owners Ian Smith and Frank Trumbetti were fined $1.2 million for defying Gov. Phil Murphy’s lockdown orders.

Now, Smith is running to unseat Rep. Andy Kim, D-N.J., a two-term incumbent. Smith said his campaign will focus on “liberty, small government, and America First policies.”

“Our public officials have forgotten who they work for,” said Smith. “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.”

Smith, a Republican, will be running in New Jersey’s newly formed 13th Congressional District, which was redrawn to favor Democrats with a nine-point party registration advantage.

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