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The Pace of Politics

Minnesota delegate Michael Gibino ran 1200 miles in less than a month from Minneapolis to the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia


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Michael Gibino on the 4th of July. courtesy of the "Bino Runs 4 Bernie" Facebook page.

Michael Gibino answered his phone on the side of the road during a quick running break. With less than 100 miles to go on a grueling 1200 mile trek, he was upbeat, confident, and breathing evenly.

Early in the process of delegate selection, Gibino decided to be a national delegate for Bernie Sanders, and wanted to be one of the 27 individuals elected from hundreds of delegates selected by their precincts. He knew he needed something that would set him apart.

As an ultra runner–someone who races distances longer than a marathon–he petitioned to run 1200 miles in less than a month from Minneapolis to Philadelphia, where the Democratic National Convention is being held this year. That ambitious proposition got him the job. “Once I got elected I thought, ‘Oh shit, now I actually have to do this.’”

Pairing with Mile in My Shoes, a local nonprofit, Gibino started a fundraising campaign to benefit the organization and pay for the supplies needed for his run. He couldn’t really prepare many other ways. From the time he was elected, he had less than a month before he had to start. “Running 300 miles a week? You can’t really train for that. You just hope your body adapts,” says Gibino.

Gibino wasn’t elected for his bold plan only, though. During the state convention, he brought forth the idea to abolish Minnesota’s superdelegate system, where individuals who are not elected as delegates vote as delegates for whomever they choose. All but about 48 of the 714 superdelegates nationwide chose Clinton. This is a particularly controversial topic among Democrats split between Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton since many attribute Clinton’s success to her superdelegates rather than those democratically elected to represent her. In the end, Clinton did get more pledged delegates regardless of the superdelegate count.

Still, the system is looked at with skepticism by some, Gibino among them, which is why he led the charge in drafting a measure to divide delegates between candidates proportionally to the state vote. In a vote of 552-480, its passage at the state convention sends a message to the party even though it is non-binding for the Minnesota DFL. Gibino believes that his work on this issue contributed to his nomination. “I have a lot of passion, and I’m willing to speak up for what I believe in no matter what the situation is.”

Now at the convention, he will serve as a leader for his delegation. Citing issues like the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the recent selection of Vice President Tim Kaine, Gibino notes that he and other Sanders supporters will not sit quietly on the floor if they disagree with the party’s platform. Their disapproval isn’t about supporting Sanders as a presidential candidate, but about continuing the “political revolution,” says Gibino. “This has always been about the issues, and we have made a lot of progress within the Democratic party.”

Gibino completed his run Sunday evening, just hours before the convention began Monday morning. While he will be physically inactive for the next four days of the convention, his main focus is to propel the party forward, just like he pushed his way through pain, injury, and exhaustion. “It is in our hands to stay involved. We are really just getting started.”

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