South Jersey gym owner Ian Smith, who came into the spotlight over the course of the pandemic for refusing to follow the state's pandemic business closures and mask mandates, is set to announce next week that he will be running for Congress.
According to the New Jersey Globe, Smith will be challenging two-term Democratic Rep. Andy Kim in New Jersey's 3rd district. Smith is scheduled to formally announce his run in Burlington County on Thursday.
Smith, who owns the Bellmawr gym, reopened his facility in May of 2020 after it was shut down in March of the same year because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Smith was fined $1.2 million for remaining open, and vowed to stay open as what he described as a "f*ck you" to Democratic Governor Phil Murphy.
Smith also gave away free gym memberships to those who refused to get the vaccine. Smith said he made the decision after a local Krispy Kreme provided free donuts to those receiving the jab. Smith has described the attempts to shutdown his gym as "a complete tragedy" and "criminal."
"You are putting people out of business for good. You are making them reliant on big government. You are taking away their civil liberties under the guise of pretending like you care about public health," Smith said.
On Thursday, Smith received a sentence of one-year probation for keeping the gym's doors open. "We got one year probation for the crime of taking our doors off to prevent government goons from locking us out of our gym," said Smith, who added that the Atilis Gym is open "and will remain open at any cost."
Smith is slated to be the second Republican to enter the race against Kim. Kim is a former Obama White House staffer who came into office during the 2018 midterm elections, and has over $3.3 million in campaign funds.
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