Fred Risser (Progressive)

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This article is about the Progressive Party politician. For his son, Democrat Fred A. Risser, see Fred Risser.

Fred E. Risser (January 15, 1900 - 1971) was an American lawyer and politician who served twelve years as a Progressive member of the Wisconsin State Senate from Dane County, Wisconsin.


Risser was born in the Town of Buffalo, Buffalo County, on January 15, 1900. After he graduated from Winona High School in Winona, Minnesota he spent two years on his father's farm before enrolling at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he received his B. A. degree in 1923 and his LL.B. in 1925. He taught at Beaver Dam High School for one year, and in 1925 became a practicing attorney in Madison, Wisconsin, entering the law firm of and eventually forming a partnership with former Assemblyman Ernest Noble Warner.[1] From 1925 to 1930 he lectured on business law at Madison College.

Public office[edit]

Before his election to the Senate in 1936 Risser had served as town clerk of the Town of Madison from 1927–28; treasurer of the Highlands Mendota Beach School from 1930–37; was three times elected district attorney of Dane County as a Republican, and in 1933 was president of the Wisconsin District Attorney's Association. In 1928 he was elected sheriff of Dane County, and was re-elected in 1930 and 1932.[2] From 1925 to 1930 he lectured on business law at Madison Area Technical College.

In 1936, Risser was elected to the 26th Senate District (Dane County) by a wide margin in the general election, after winning a plurality in a three-way Progressive Party primary (Progressive incumbent Harold Groves was not a candidate).[3] He was re-elected in 1940 and 1944; but by 1948 the Wisconsin Progressives had merged back into the Republican Party, and (after having to face a challenge in the Republican primary from a non-Progressive), Risser was defeated for re-election in a four-way race (there were also a Socialist and a Wallace Progressive on the ballot) by Gaylord Nelson (a Democrat and future governor and U.S. Senator).[4]

After the Senate[edit]

Risser continued to practice law. In 1956, his son Fred A. Risser was elected to the State Assembly as a Democrat, and is still in the legislature as of July 2013.