Leap Year Politics

PHOTO: US President Dwight Eisenhower waves from the stage at a re-election campaign event in this March 6, 1956 file photo.
Abbie Rowe/PhotoQuest/Getty Images

Leap Years come every four years, making the 29th of February a day for the history books. From politician "Leaplings," who are children born on that extra February day, to presidents announcing their re-election bids, here are some political factoids with Leap Year connections. And if it weren't for one Leap Year in particular, Americans would celebrate July 5 instead of July 4.

Declaration of Independence Signed

PHOTO: This undated engraving shows the scene on July 4, 1776 when the Declaration of Independence was approved by the Continental Congress in Philadelphia, Pa.
AP Photo
1776


The Founding Fathers signed the Declaration of Independence in a Leap Year.

If it weren't for that extra day, July 5 might be filled with the fireworks and patriotic displays typical of the July 4 holiday.

Presidential elections have always fallen on a leap year except for the very first in 1789. It is the only election to not fall in a Leap Year.


William "Alfalfa" Murray on cover of TIME Magazine

PHOTO: Former Governor of Oklahoma, William "Alfalfa Bill" Murray, poses for a portrait in this May 5, 1952 file photo.
Harry Harris/AP Photo
Feb. 29, 1932


William "Alfalfa" Murray, the governor of Oklahoma, was featured on the cover of Time Magazine after deciding to run for president.

One of the more eccentric politicians of his time, a main tenet of Murray's campaign platform was to give every hungry American "Bread, Butter, Bacon and Beans." As governor of Oklahoma, he allowed people to farm potatoes on the grounds of the governor's mansion.

Murray got his nickname "Alfalfa" after starting a successful farm known for its alfalfa crop in Oklahoma.


First African-American Wins Oscar

PHOTO: American actress Hattie McDaniel with her Academy Award of Merit for Outstanding Achievement, circa 1945.
John Kobal Foundation/Getty Images
Feb. 29, 1940


Hattie McDaniel became the first African-American to win an Academy Award. McDaniel won Best Supporting Actress for her role as Mammy in "Gone with the Wind," which won 10 Academy Awards and was the first film to win more than five Oscars.

Only six other African-American women have won Academy Awards since, including Halle Berry, who is the lone black woman to win Best Actress, in 2001, and Octavia Spencer, who won Best Supporting Actress for her role in "The Help" this year.


Rep. Bart Stupak Born

PHOTO: Rep. Bart Stupak at the Rayburn House Office building on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC in this Feb. 23, 2010 file photo.
Tim Sloan/AFP/Getty Images
Feb. 29, 1952


Rep. Bart Stupak was born. Stupak, a Democrat, represented Michigan in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1993 to 2001.

Other prominent Leaplings: Former U.S. Rep. Rollie Redlin (1920), who represented North Dakota from 1965 to 1967; U.S. astronaut Jack Lousma (1936), who later ran as a Republican for a Michigan Senate seat in 1984 but lost to Carl Levin; and rap and hip-hop artist Ja Rule (1976).


Eisenhower Announced Re-Election Bid

PHOTO: US President Dwight Eisenhower waves from the stage at a re-election campaign event in this March 6, 1956 file photo.
Abbie Rowe/PhotoQuest/Getty Images
Feb. 29, 1956


President Dwight D. Eisenhower announced he will run for re-election.

In September of 1955, Eisenhower, who was serving his first term as president, suffered a heart attack, causing some to question whether he was physically capable of seeking a second term. In December, he considered not running for president, but after consultation with his personal physician, Eisenhower announced in a televised address to the nation Feb. 29, 1956, that he would seek re-election.

Eisenhower's 1956 opponent, Democrat Adlai Stevenson, was a rematch from his 1952 bid. Eisenhower won the 1956 election with 57.4 percent of the vote.


Pedro Zamora, HIV/AIDS Activist, Born

PHOTO: Pedro Zamora, who educated the public about AIDS, by discussing his life with the disease on MTV's "Real World," died hours after his last appearance was broadcast on the show's season finale.
HO KRT/Newscom
Feb 29, 1972


Pedro Zamora, an openly gay HIV/AIDS activist, was born. Zamora gained notoriety when he revealed he was living with AIDS on "The Real World: San Francisco."

Zamora testified before Congress in 1993 and called for the implementation of more in depth HIV/AIDS programs.

Zamora died in 1994, and President Bill Clinton praised Zamora for putting a face to HIV/AIDS in America.


Former Rep. Florence Dwyer Died

PHOTO: Representative Florence P. Dwyer is seen in this undated file photo.
US Congress
Feb 29, 1976


Former Rep. Florence Dwyer died. Dwyer, the second woman from New Jersey to serve in Congress, represented the Garden State in the U.S. House of Representatives for eight terms, starting in 1956.

While in Congress, Dwyer, a Republican, co-sponsored the Equal Pay Act.

Dwyer once said of being a woman in politics, "A congresswoman must look like a girl, act like a lady, think like a man, speak on any given subject with authority and, most of all, work like a dog."


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