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NJ Gym Owner Who Defied COVID Lockdowns to Run for Congress

'We’re being villainized as small businesses in general, that we’re responsible for the spread...'

(Headline USA) The New Jersey gym owner who went viral during the pandemic for defying the state’s COVID lockdown announced this week that he is running for Congress.

Ian Smith, owner of Atilis Gym, said on Twitter that he is seeking to oust Rep. Andy Kim, D-N.J., to represent New Jersey’s 3rd congressional district. He plans to formally unveil his campaign 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.

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 Smith made headlines throughout the pandemic for repeatedly clashing with New Jersey officials who were trying to shut down his gym.

He refused to listen and was arrested as a result in July 2020—along with his business partner, Frank Trumbetti—on charges of fourth-degree contempt, and obstruction and violation of a disaster control act.

New Jersey officials also confiscated Smith’s assets after he refused to pay their penalty fines, and they tried to forcibly shut down his gym by putting wooden boards over its entrance.

“We’re being villainized as small businesses in general, that we’re responsible for the spread,” Smith said at the time. “But over 50% of the deaths are coming from places that are supposed to be under a governor’s control.”

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Smith has reportedly hired Republican political consultant Steve Kush to help with his campaign, according to the New Jersey Globe.

Kush also helped truck driver Edward Durr win his race against New Jersey Senate President Steve Sweeney, who had been the longest-serving state Democrat.

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