Children Stumped By Sign-waving

A popular sign-waving spot on Kalanianaole Highway. PHOTO COURTESY FRIENDS OF CHRIS STUMP

A popular sign-waving spot on Kalanianaole Highway. PHOTO COURTESY FRIENDS OF CHRIS STUMP

Like clockwork every morning on the drive to school, my son and daughter crack up as soon as we turn onto Kalanianaole Highway from Hawaii Kai Drive.

What’s making them laugh?


The first time it happened, it wasn’t a candidate running for office. It was a sign-waver dressed up as a lion advertising a new business.

“Hey, why’s that lion waving at me?” squealed my 6-year-old son. My 3-year-old daughter added, “Lion says roar,” between giggles.

It was an amusing sight, for sure, although my heart felt for the lion mascot sweltering in the sun. I may have thrown up a shaka as moral support.

The next morning, it happened again, but it wasn’t a lion this time. Sure enough, as soon as we drove past the same intersection, my son says, “Hey, someone else is waving. Why’s he waving at me?”

My daughter chimed in, “Silly man. Why he do that? Ask him, Mommy.”

So I did. The candidate’s name is Chris Stump. He’s the Democrat running for state House District 17 against longtime incumbent Republican Gene Ward.

Stump responded to my daughter’s question this way: “We have to use what’s available to us. We’re running on a shoestring budget, and sign-waving is free. Not everyone can pay for signs and mailers, plus it draws a lot of attention and gets your name out.”

It doesn’t hurt that his last name is Stump. Older volunteers say “Stump for Stump.” Younger ones prefer “Fist pump for Stump.”

Incumbent Rep. Ward says, “For a newcomer, it’s the best way an unknown can be known. It takes discipline and rigor.”

Since the primary election, Stump has hit the pavement every morning from 6 to 8. He sees the value, saying, “It’s personalizing politics to show the candidate is out there willing to work hard. You try to connect.”

We’re all painfully aware of how much time we spend on the road, so the right intersection can make or break a campaign. Why’d he choose this one? It’s simple. “Everyone coming out of Hawaii Kai has to come out of the area — pretty much the whole district.”

That’s why Stump can expect plenty of company. As Ward says, “It’s going to be a crowded corner.”

Duke Aiona and Elwin Ahu supporters have been spotted there, and Ward has his own sign-waving strategy.

The veteran puts a spin on the campaign tradition, saying, “Waving is the best way for name ID. But I use it for issues, too, like ‘preserve the great lawn.'”

Whatever their message, my kids get a kick out of it.

Note to candidates, and lions too: My kids aren’t laughing at you. They’re laughing with you and the “silly” sign-waving tradition that resurfaces every election.