William Fischer: Former legislator known for being farmers’ advocate
MARSHALL — He served during a time of rapid change in state and national politics. But William Casper “Cap” Fischer was a legislator focused on representing southwest Minnesota, area residents said Monday.
“He was very well-regarded as a farmers’ advocate,” said Cal Ludeman, secretary of the Minnesota Senate and a former member of the Minnesota House of Representatives.
Fischer, a Marshall resident, died Saturday. He was 93.
Fischer was a farmer and raised beef cattle in Lyon County, according to the Minnesota Legislative Reference Library. From 1962 to 1972, Fischer served in the Minnesota House, representing an area including Lyon County.
At that time, state government worked a little differently than it does today. In the 1960s, Minnesota legislators were elected on a non-partisan basis, like county commissioners are today, said Marshall resident and former Minnesota House member Marty Seifert. Legislators were often known more for the area they represented than their political affiliation.
“(Fischer) was known for southwest Minnesota,” Cal Ludeman said. “He made sure people knew where Marshall was.”
Tracy resident Sandy Ludeman said Fischer was “gregarious” and outgoing. “He was well known in the area, especially Marshall,” Ludeman said.
Although state legislators in the 1960s were non-partisan, they were often part of conservative or liberal caucuses. Fischer was part of the Conservative Caucus during his 10 years in office. He also served in the House during the same time period that Joe A. Josefson of Minneota was in the state Senate.
“I think they worked together pretty well,” Sandy Ludeman said.
While Fischer was in office, he was part of several House committees, including the appropriations committee, agriculture committee, state and junior colleges committee, and the law enforcement and liquor control committee.
Seifert said Fischer faced narrow margins both when he was first elected in 1962, and when he was defeated in the 1972 election. In 1972, Fischer ran against Russ Stanton, who was a student at Southwest Minnesota State College (now SMSU). Stanton had previously been elected to the Marshall City Council, and was part of student protests against the Vietnam War.
Stanton defeated Fischer by only 50 votes. A recount was held, but Fischer stopped the recount before it was finished, because he had determined it wouldn’t change the outcome, the Minnesota Legislative Reference Library said.
“It was a turbulent time,” Seifert said of the changes in the political mood in the early 70s. Seifert said Stanton had a large margin of votes in Marshall’s Ward 1, where the college was located, that offset some of the strengths Fischer had in other parts of his district.