It’s anybody’s guess who will prevail in today’s voting, but Ja’Mal Green seems like a long shot, judging from the polls. Seeing Green’s stranded bus — covered with a huge green advertisement for his mayoral bid — it was natural to think: Well, there’s a campaign that ran into the ditch.
I happened to see the bus a little before 5:30 p.m., when I was walking past Truman College. It was sitting in the circular drive next to the college’s parking garage, with its back wheels sunk into the mud inside the circle. The driver must have had trouble making around the tight circle. I snapped a couple of photos with my phone and posted them on Twitter:
A Ja’Mal Green campaign bus is stuck in a circular drive at Truman College. pic.twitter.com/X2NOF1TABV— Robert Loerzel (@robertloerzel) February 27, 2023
It didn’t take long for comments to start rolling in.
@RealEric4Real: “This is a little too on the nose, c’mon guys”
@JoniHolinger: “Kind of like his campaign, stuck.”
@Antonio72675353: “This guy can’t do anything right. Big Ego. Big Mouth. Big Bus. And just like his bus, he’s not going anywhere.”
@JohnnyGaltar: “Imagine what Ja’Mal can do to the city. Rekd”
@tnertz: “Lincoln towing is just around the corner to help!”
@RogersParkMan: “Someone has to find out how many seats that bus has, for comparison to how many votes he gets.”
A few people said the incident reminded them of certain TV shows:
@RebeccaJBurns_: “Among other reasons @southsidechi needed more seasons, the jokes about this election basically write themselves”
@aenelson4: “Parks and Recreation, Season 4 Episode 21, ‘Bus Tour’”
@BIGANDER: “Armando Iannucci bounced back quick from his crummy post-VEEP show getting cancelled”
Other people questioned why Green even has a campaign bus.
@superlorna69: “No one needs a bus unless they are in a U.S. Senate race.”
@mnblrmkr: “Does that also serve as campaign headquarters? Why else would a city candidate need such a massive tour bus?”
@maggiehendricks: “That … doesn’t feel green.”
@nonstopbutterc1: “Why did he need to buy a bus for his campaign? I feel like he could’ve bought a sprinter van and it would’ve been plenty of room for his entire team. It’s not like he’s got campaign stops outside of the city limits. Also it doesn’t get stuck in the circle drive way at Truman lol”
The candidate (@JaymalGreen) replied to that comment, explaining:
I own a transportation company. Just donated it to the campaign. Lol— Ja'Mal Green (@JaymalGreen) February 28, 2023
And when Chicago Tribune reporter Gregory Pratt posted my original tweet along with the simple comment, “Dang,” Green replied: “Before you ask, yes the driver will pay for it.”
The bus was still stuck hours later. At 8:14 p.m., @tnertz posted video of a pickup unsuccessfully trying to pull the bus out of the mud.
Almost 3 hours later: https://t.co/KUhhkxLOWi pic.twitter.com/88ahuOa0wJ— Trent 🇺🇸 (@tnertz) February 28, 2023
At 10:10 p.m., @Segway_Batman was on the scene, posting pictures of a massive tow truck arriving to attempt a rescue.
They got a real BIG BOI here to rescue Ja'mal's Bus https://t.co/TWrJH9MKRX pic.twitter.com/DcXYktH0sa— Segway Batman (@Segway_Batman) February 28, 2023
Another Tribune reporter covering the election, Alice Yin, joked: “please do not text me anything further on the election tonight unless it’s an update on this”
The tow truck’s first attempt to pull the bus from its rear end failed, when the cable connected with the bus snapped, according to @Segway_Batman.
I live nearby, so I decided to walk over and witness the towing efforts for myself, standing next to @Segway_Batman, who was (as his Twitter handle suggests) watching all of this while standing on a Segway. I didn’t see much movement, however. I posted a video at 11:15 p.m., observing: “The guys with the big tow truck got the bus to move an inch or two, but that’s about it so far.”
The guys with the big tow truck got the bus to move an inch or two, but that’s about it so far. pic.twitter.com/cLMTgFFwVI— Robert Loerzel (@robertloerzel) February 28, 2023
I called it a night at 11:20 p.m., guessing that it might take a while before the tow truck guys figured out a way of pulling the bus. The problem seemed to be the awkward angle: On the circular drive, there was no way to maneuver the tow truck directly in front of or behind the bus, so the cable was pulling on it from the side. On Twitter, a few folks compared the situation to the Suez Canal obstruction in 2021, when the Ever Given container ship ran aground, blocking all traffic until it could be freed.
After I returned home and went to sleep, @Segway_Batman announced the bus’s liberation from the mud at 12:45 a.m.: “THE BUS IS OUT. I REPEAT. THE BUS IS OUT”
THE BUS IS OUT— Segway Batman (@Segway_Batman) February 28, 2023
I REPEAT. THE BUS IS OUT https://t.co/TWrJH9MKRX pic.twitter.com/UvFyYpWFUt
As his video showed, the tow truck had moved over to the adjacent streets, where it could pull out the bus from a more direct angle. @localcelebrity was also present for the big moment, tweeting: “In the years to come people will ask: ‘Where were you when Ja’mal Green’s bus got unstuck?’ I will say, ‘I was there and I got to meet @Segway_Batman!’”
Minutes later, in the early morning hours of Election Day, the tow truck drove through a red light at Wilson Avenue as it pulled away Green’s bus, which was scraping the pavement and throwing off sparks. @Segway_Batman filmed that scene (riding alongside on his Segway, I presume).
Ja’Mal Green posted a tweet with one of @Segway_Batman’s videos, writing: “😂😆 Somebody made this Tik Tok of the bus getting stuck. It’s the talk of the night adding to our momentum!! This is Chef’s kiss with the music. I’m dying. This made me happy after grilling the bus driver for who paid him to drive in the mud. Lol.”
😂😆 Somebody made this Tik Tok of the bus getting stuck. It’s the talk of the night adding to our momentum!! This is Chef’s kiss with the music. I’m dying. This made me happy after grilling the bus driver for who paid him to drive in the mud. Lol. pic.twitter.com/I8S25CMKdr— Ja'Mal Green (@JaymalGreen) February 28, 2023
@Segway_Batman—who is critical of Green’s campaign—wasn’t happy with the candidate appropriating his video. He tweeted: “Somebody has a name, Ja’Mal. Ja’mal screen capped and reposted my video instead of retweeting it, because he knows retweeting would present my account which has called him out on dangerous car centric policies and also retweeted Johnson/Buckner content. Not mayor behavior”
After Green added a donation link, @Segway_Batman tweeted: “Bruh please cease and desist the use of my video for campaign donations”
But Green may have earned at least one vote from his campaign’s misadventure with the bus. After he told @nonstopbutterc1 that he owned the bus, she replied: “You are the first mayoral candidate to engage with me on social media, and give me a sensible answer to a question. Also this bus stuck in circle predicament is hilarious, first thing to make me smile all week. For this, you’ve got my vote!”