Socialist mayor Frank Zeidler dies at 93
CHICAGO (Reuters) – Former Milwaukee Mayor Frank P.
Zeidler, the last Socialist to run a major U.S. city, has died,
a spokesman for a Milwaukee hospital said on Saturday.
Zeidler, 93, died on Friday of congestive heart failure.
The son of a German Lutheran barber, Zeidler led Milwaukee
for three terms from 1948 to 1960 and also ran for president as
a Socialist in 1976.
He was the last in an era of Socialist mayors who ran
Milwaukee on and off from 1910 and the last Socialist to serve
as mayor of a major American city.
Zeidler’s tenure in the industrial Midwestern city was
marked by large-scale public housing construction, slum
clearance and strong statements on behalf of civil rights.
“We had ideals and the philosophy of liberalism that caused
our fight for the people against the special interests to take
on the nature of a crusade for better government and a better
city,” Zeidler said in his book, “A Liberal in City
Government,” which was written in 1962 and published in 2005.
In 1972, when the Socialist Party/Social Democratic
Federation splintered, Zeidler emerged as leader of one
faction, the Socialist Party USA, and served as its chair for
Zeidler was the Socialist Party USA’s presidential
candidate in 1976, getting on 10 state ballots and winning
slightly more than 6,000 votes.
He remained active in politics and in a June 2004 interview
with the public radio program Democracy Now! termed the United
States “as divided as it has ever been, perhaps, almost since
the Civil War.”