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Why a wave of social media ads may signal a potential DeSantis White House run

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, a rising Republican star, has been careful not to nurture growing speculation that he will make a presidential bid in 2024. But there are signs that DeSantis could be preparing for a White House run even as he campaigns for another term as governor in November’s midterm elections.

A Reuters analysis of DeSantis’ social media ads shows he has dramatically expanded his out-of-state ads in recent months, an indicator, say some political analysts, that he may be laying the groundwork for a national campaign.

Travis Ridout.

DeSantis may, however, simply be using his national profile to seek a broader donor base for his re-election campaign, said Travis Ridout, an expert on campaign ads at Washington State University, although the Republican is a fund-raising giant who has already built a $100 million plus warchest.

Two sources close to DeSantis confirmed to Reuters he is building a national database of voter contact information.

Should DeSantis launch a White House bid, he would be retracing the steps of past presidential candidates including U.S. Senator Corey Booker, a Democrat who boosted out-of-state social media ads ahead of the 2018 midterm elections before running for president in 2020, Ridout said.

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Roe vs. Wade ruling to drive interest in state politics, foreshadows what’s to come

The strongly divided reactions to the overturning of Roe vs. Wade are continuing to drive both protest and praise at levels political experts say is likely to generate greater voter attention on state and local races.

The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision puts abortion policy in the hands of state lawmakers, whose races for legislative seats traditionally receive less attention from voters than federal offices such as U.S. Congress or the White House.

But political scientists at Washington State University say general voter awareness of state legislative races now could push public interest into uncharted territory.

Cornell Clayton.

“In the past, you didn’t really see campaigns for state legislatures or governors discussing the abortion question very often, but you are likely to see a lot more of that now,” said Cornell Clayton, director of the Thomas S. Foley Institute for Public Policy and Public Service at WSU. “In fact, I would expect to see it become a central issue in almost every midterm campaign because now states are going to be setting policies on abortion and it will matter very much who your governor is and who the members of your state legislature are.”

Clayton, a frequent political commentator whose work on judicial politics has twice received the American Judicature Award from the American Political Science Association, said the issue of abortion has moved front and center in political campaigns here in the Pacific Northwest.

Michael Salamone.

Michael Salamone, political science professor at WSU, recently explained in an article written by the Associated Press that public support for the Supreme Court’s decisions can easily fluctuate on a case-by-case basis. But overall faith in the court’s central role in American democracy has tended to be historically resilient. Whether that support will suffer because of the Roe decision as well as other recent rulings remains to be seen.

“Just based on the amount of rhetoric and the high-profile nature of so many of these decisions, I’m wondering if we’ve perhaps reached our limit to that resilience,” Salamone told The Associated Press.

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WSU Insider

Research opportunities for underrepresented students

Alexandra Melena.

As a Hispanic woman from Southern California, Alexandra Malena questioned just how welcome she would feel at Washington State University’s rural Pullman campus.

She also found herself asking how she would fare in WSU’s neuroscience curriculum.

“Being first-gen and in a STEM field, I always had these doubts in the back of my mind,” Malena said. “But I quickly found a group of people here who helped me feel welcome and comfortable.”

That group, a hodgepodge of undergraduate and graduate students inside Associate Professor Ryan McLaughlin’s laboratory, eventually led her to another support network – WSU’s new Maximizing Access to Research Careers (MARC) program.

In addition to financial and peer support through the program, Malena, whose father is from Argentina and mother is from Mexico, said the program has helped her believe in herself when imposter syndrome kicks in.

It also pushed her to explore her passion for the brain and add neuroscience as a second major, in addition to psychology. “The aspect I love about psychology was learning about the brain, so I felt I should probably be studying neuroscience too,” she said.

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WSU Insider

Music professor to perform with Pulitzer Prize-winning composer

Jacqueline Wilson.

When Jacqueline Wilson takes the stage Saturday night at New York City’s Whitney Museum of American Art, she will be one of 13 Indigenous women musicians performing original scores written specifically for each of them by Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Raven Chacon.

“This is so unique that I will be standing up there with 12 other Native women representing the first Indigenous Pulitzer Prize winner in music in the history of the award,” said Wilson, a bassoonist and assistant professor of music at Washington State University. “It is by far the most special thing I’ve ever been a part of. I’m really proud of it.”

Wilson and her fellow musicians will be performing a series of 13 lithographs collectively known as “For Zitkála-Šá.” A Yankton Dakota composer and musician, Zitkála-Šá lived from 1876 to 1938 and wrote the libretto and songs for The Sun Dance Opera (1913), the first American Indian opera.

Raven Chacon

Chacon wrote the graphic scores that make up “For Zitkála-Šá” specifically for Wilson and the other contemporary American Indian, First Nations, and Mestiza women performers.

He envisions each piece as a portrait of the woman who is performing it and how they navigate the twenty-first century.

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WSU Insider

WSU Vancouver historian explores Oregon pioneers’ legacy of violence

Peter Boag.

Washington State University Vancouver historian Peter Boag’s new scholarly book, “Pioneering Death: The Violence of Boyhood in Turn-of-the-Century Oregon,” is a kaleidoscopic study of the whole societal context surrounding a triple murder in Oregon in 1895. It expands outward from standard criminology turf – the murderer’s troubled psychology, health problems, history of bad behavior and possible domestic abuse by his father – to explore the grinding economic depression of the late 1800s and the complex financial and social pressures felt by Willamette Valley farm families.

“So many things are happening at that particular moment. When the murder happens, it seems to tug on all these strands that are connected outward into society and the nation – and the world,” Boag said.

Violence was an essential part of the pioneer and post-pioneer landscape, Boag writes. At the time, the original Oregon Trail pioneers who were starting to die off both celebrated and whitewashed their own long history of violence.

Boag’s scholarship about the American West often focuses on gender, sexuality and culture. A museum exhibit that he developed in partnership with the staff of the Washington State Historical Society, called “Crossing Boundaries: Portraits of a Transgender West,” won an Award of Excellence from the American Association for State and Local History. The exhibit recently closed after a run at the Washington State History Museum in Tacoma.

Boag’s book “Re-Dressing America’s Frontier Past” provided much of the research for the exhibit, which highlighted the stories of specific transgender people in the American West from 1860 to 1940.

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