NJ gym owner who gained fame by defying Murphy will run for Congress
Gym owner Ian Smith is planning to make a run for Congress with the same consultant who helped unseat Senate President Steve Sweeney.
On Thursday, he will formally announce his candidacy as a Republican for the 3rd Congressional District seat currently held by Democrat Andy Kim. He has already filed his candidacy with the Federal Election Commission although he does not appear on the website because the paperwork can only be mailed.
Smith made a name for himself during the pandemic when he openly defied Gov. Phil Murphy's executive order in place at the time closing gyms by opening up his Atilis Gym in Bellmawr. Police and the Department of Health would shut him down only to have him open again.
Is Smith's candidacy serious?
"Yes, he's serious. We have a fundraising consultant on board. I'll be bringing in a campaign manager next week. It's serious," political consultant Steve Kush told New Jersey 101.5.
Kush works with the Gloucester County GOP and helped Republican Ed Durr topple Sweeney.
He would not reveal too much about Smith's campaign platform ahead of the formal announcement but said a central theme would be government overreach.
"Look at the way he and his business partner have been treated by the administration. It's government overreach at all levels," Kush said.
Addressed the CPAC Conference
Before Smith can face off against Kim he has to get past announced candidate Robert Healey, the owner of the Viking Yacht Co.
Smith may also have to address his 2007 drunk driving crash that killed Atlantic County College student Kevin Ade. Smith was charged with causing Ade's death and with possession of marijuana and paraphernalia. He pleaded guilty to second-degree vehicular homicide while the other charges were dismissed and he was sentenced in 2008 to five years and six months in prison with three years of supervised release.
Ade's family brought the case to the media's attention as Smith gained attention.
Smith last year addressed the conviction in a post on his Instagram, saying there is "justifiably a great deal of hated and resentment towards me. This is something I've lived with my whole life. I've never run from it nor would I."
The New Jersey Globe was first to report Smith's candidacy.
EDITOR'S NOTE: This article has been updated to reflect the specific charges Ian Smtih originally faced in 2007.