Maverick Candidate Ian Smith Leaves NJ GOP for Libertarian Party
Fresh off his landslide loss in the Republican Primary for Congress, gym owner Ian Smith is leaving the GOP.
Smith confirmed he has switched to New Jersey's Libertarian Party.
The owner of Atilis Gym in Bellmawr first made headlines by defying Gov. Phil Murphy's shutdown ordered during the pandemic. He was part of a new crop of Republicans who sought to buck party norms during the primary.
He was defeated by businessman Bob Healy in the 3rd district primary 53%-38%. Healy will now go on to face incumbent Democrat Andy Kim (D-Moorestown).
On joining the Libertarian Party, Smith says it is "the change we are looking for."
Smith has refused to say if he will urge his supporters to back Healy. That seems unlikely with the party switch. Ewing Police officer Christopher Russomano is the Libertarian candidate running in the 3rd against Healy and Kim.
The maverick candidate's campaign was marred by controversy. Before he announced he was running, stories surfaced of him killing a teenager in a drunken crash 15 year ago, when Smith was 20 years old. He took full responsibility and dismissed the incident as a youthful indiscretion.
Then, on March 27, Smith was arrested in Cinnaminson after his truck was seen swerving and nearly hitting another vehicle. He refused a breathalyzer test and was charged with DUI.
Police bodycam video shows Smith telling officers, "You know I'm a congressional candidate for this district, right?"
Four weeks later, his running mate, Valerie Gallagher, was also charged with driving while intoxicated. Gallagher was running for Burlington County Commissioner. She lost her race to Jeff Fortune, who had the backing of the County GOP Chairman.