The Republican-endorsed candidate for state House in a western Hennepin County district declared bankruptcy in 2010 with more than $1 million in liabilities and a significant lien placed on his property by the Internal Revenue Service.
Bradley Ganzer was endorsed at a district convention Monday in the race to replace former House Majority Leader Joyce Peppin, R-Rogers, who resigned her seat at the end of May.
Ganzer still faces a Republican primary opponent in Kristin Robbins, executive director of the Economic Club of Minnesota. The winner will take on DFL candidate Dan Solon, a Navy veteran, in November in a district that President Donald Trump won by 10 percentage points. It includes parts of Maple Grove, Rogers and Dayton.
Ganzer said the bankruptcy arose from personal guarantees he made on his mortgage business, which collapsed during the real estate crash.
“We had grown to 100 loan officers in 13 states, and the crash took it all,” he said.
He blamed the government for the mortgage meltdown and the Great Recession that followed, arguing that the Federal Reserve Bank’s pursuit of artificially low interest rates and policies designed to promote homeownership contributed to the crash.
The bipartisan Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission that investigated the crisis and produced a report for Congress did not share Ganzer’s diagnosis, pointing the finger instead at reckless behavior of lenders, borrowers, credit rating agencies and Wall Street firms.
His 2010 bankruptcy filing showed $330,000 in assets and $1.07 million in liabilities, including $161,000 to the IRS and more than $800,000 to banks such as Capitol One, Chase, Discover, Klein Bank and Interbank. In the end, he and his wife were relieved of $782,122 in debt.
Separately, Capital One Small Business and Livingston Financial won judgments against Ganzer in court.
He now owns a small credit card processing company, he said.
When asked what his life would have been like without the intervention of the federal bankruptcy court, Ganzer allowed, “It would have had a negative impact.”
Should he be elected to the House, Ganzer said, “I want to make sure our local businesses have the ability to thrive, and that’s through less regulation and lower taxes.”
He declined to specify which regulations should be eliminated or taxes reduced.
Republicans control the House with a 21-seat majority, but are defending seats in 12 districts that Hillary Clinton carried in 2016; the DFL holds seven seats that were won by Trump. A loss by a Republican in an otherwise solidly GOP leaning district could tip the House in a pivotal election year, which also includes an open race for governor.
Ganzer was also convicted of burglary for an incident in 1992. He said it was a college prank gone wrong while he was a student at Mankato State University, but he declined to elaborate.
“It was a great experience for me to learn and grow up, and that’s what I did,” he said.