The 84-year-old Wisconsin Senator has more than 50 years of government service under his belt.
Wisconsin Senate President Fred Risser is the longest-serving state legislator in the nation. His district includes portions of Madison, the state capital. Here, he looks out over the city from the top of the Capitol dome. (Photos by David Kidd)
Risser's great grandfather, grandfather and father all served as Wisconsin legislators. Fred, at right, was first elected to the Wisconsin Assembly in 1956.
Risser confers with members of his staff. As political fortunes change with each election, Risser moves into and out of his current office reserved for the President of the Senate.
President Harry Truman flanked by Fred and his first wife Betty, who died after 21 years of marriage. "I have been blessed with having the opportunity of being married to two very wonderful women."
There are 57 steps to the senator's second floor office. Risser makes a point of never using the elevator.
Last year's public-employee protests over Gov. Scott Walker's plan to end collective bargaining have mostly faded away. But every day at noon, a few protesters still gather in the Capitol to sing songs like "There Is Power in a Union," "Bring Back Wisconsin to Me," and "I Don't Want Your Millions, Mister."
Risser was among the 14 Senate Democrats who left the state in order to prevent a vote on the controversial "Budget Repair Bill," which limits collective bargaining by public employees. An admirer pays tribute.
Risser has a quiet lunch alone every day with The New York Times.
A popular figure around the capital, Risser is always recognized by well-wishers. He has never been defeated in an election. This year he is running unopposed.
An enthusiastic supporter of his state, Risser embraces all things Wisconsin, including of course, cheese.
Risser maintains a one-man law office near the Capitol. Here he points to a flyer from his first campaign.
Recently, the local paper advised newcomers to Madison to (a) Get a bike and ride it, (b) Drink local beer and (c) Invest in warm clothing. That's advice Sen. Risser takes to heart.
Risser confers with Republican Rep. Al Ott.
Risser looks down from the top of the Capitol dome. The building underwent a $160 million restoration over a 12-year period.
As one of the few continuous legislative leaders during the years of restoration work, Risser helped keep the project moving and helped educate the revolving personalities involved.
Avid gardeners, Risser and his wife Nancy have created a beautiful green space from a former urban parking lot.
A few years ago, Risser and his wife sold their house and moved to a fifth floor condo across the street from his office, "high enough where I can see what's going on, but too high to get hit by tomatoes." Risser has never lived beyond walking distance to the Capitol.