Fred Risser

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Fred A. Risser
Fred Risser.jpg
President of the Wisconsin Senate
In office
July 17, 2012 – January 7, 2013
Preceded byMichael Ellis
Succeeded byMichael Ellis
In office
January 8, 2007 – January 3, 2011
Preceded byAlan Lasee
Succeeded byMichael Ellis
In office
January 4, 1999 – January 6, 2003
Preceded byBrian Rude
Succeeded byAlan Lasee
In office
January 8, 1996 – January 5, 1998
Preceded byRobert P. Knowles
Succeeded byBrian Rude
In office
January 6, 1975 – January 9, 1995
Preceded byRobert P. Knowles
Succeeded byBrian Rude
Member of the Wisconsin Senate
from the 26th district
Assumed office
December 1, 1962
Preceded byHorace W. Wilkie
Member of the Wisconsin State Assembly
from the 26th district
In office
Personal details
Born (1927-05-05) May 5, 1927 (age 92)
Madison, Wisconsin, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic
Spouse(s)Nancy Risser
Alma materUniversity of Wisconsin
University of Oregon
Military service
Allegiance United States
Branch/serviceUnited States Navy
Years of service1945–1946
Battles/warsWorld War II

Fred A. Risser (born May 5, 1927) is a Democratic member of the Wisconsin Senate, representing the 26th District since 1962.[1] His district includes most of the west side and central neighborhoods of Madison, including the campus of the University of Wisconsin–Madison. He previously served in the Wisconsin Assembly from 1957 to 1962. Risser has never lost an election and is the longest-serving state legislator in American political history.[1][2][3] With the death of New Mexico State Senator John Pinto in 2019, Risser is the only remaining World War 2 veteran to serve as a state legislator as of May 2019.

Early life, education and career[edit]

Risser was born in Madison on May 5, 1927, into one of the most prolific families in Wisconsin political history. Risser's father (Fred E. Risser), grandfather (Ernest Warner), and great-grandfather (Clement Warner) served at various times as Wisconsin legislators representing part or all of Dane County, although none were Democrats. He was educated in the Madison, Wisconsin public schools and attended Carleton College and the University of Wisconsin (where he earned a B.A.) Risser attended law school at the University of Oregon and became a practicing attorney in Wisconsin; he is a member of the State Bar of Wisconsin and the Oregon State Bar. He served in the United States Navy during World War II (1945–46).[4]

Wisconsin Legislature[edit]

Risser was first elected to the Wisconsin Assembly in 1956, succeeding fellow Democrat Ivan A. Nestingen (who had resigned in April of that year). He was elected to the state Senate in a 1962 special election triggered by the appointment of Horace W. Wilkie to the Wisconsin Supreme Court. He was elected to a full term in 1964 and has been reelected every four years since.

In his 2004 electoral victory, he received more than 80% of the vote, facing opposition only from a Green Party candidate and no Republican opponent. In the 2007–08 session of the Wisconsin State Senate, Risser was elected as President of the Senate. He held this position on several prior occasions. He also has been President Pro Tempore, Minority Leader (1967–1973) and Assistant Minority Leader in the State Senate.[1] In 2008, 2012 and 2016 he was re-elected without opposition.

2011 Wisconsin protests[edit]

During the protests in Wisconsin, Risser, along with the 13 other Democratic State Senators, left the state to deny the State Senate a quorum on Governor Scott Walker's "Budget Repair" legislation.[5][6]

Personal life[edit]

Risser's first wife died after 21 years of marriage.[7] Risser is married to his second wife, Nancy Risser, a retired Spanish teacher. He has three children and four grandchildren.


  1. ^ a b c Biographical page at State Legislature website.
  2. ^ Frank Bures, "Backstory: The iron man of state politics", The Christian Science Monitor, March 1, 2007.
  3. ^ Sen. Risser outraged that Capitol has become an "armed fortress", John Nichols, The Capitol Times, March 3, 2011
  4. ^ Toepel, M. G.; Kuehn, Hazel L., eds. The Wisconsin Blue Book, 1958 Madison: State of Wisconsin, 1958; p. 37
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^ Journal, Mark Sommerhauser | Wisconsin State. "In 60-year legislative career, Fred Risser has learned to take the long view". Retrieved 2018-08-19.

External links[edit]

Wisconsin State Senate
Preceded by
Horace W. Wilkie
Wisconsin State Senator - 26th District
1962 – Present
Succeeded by