Oklahoma: Watts backing Paul. Tomorrow, when US Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) announces his presidential candidacy, former US Rep. J. C. Watts (R-OK) will be on the platform with him. For years the only African-American Republican in Congress, Watts was a popular speaker at GOP dinners, especially in the South. Watts, says the Sooner State’s McCarville Report, has been impressed with Paul’s efforts to reach out to voters outside the base ……. Texas: Cruz drawing crowds in Iowa. US Sen. Ted Cruz (R), in his first trip to Iowa since he announced his White House bid, “was greeted by enthusiastic crowds packed into stuffy auditoriums and large ballrooms,” reports the Washington Post. Other news is also good for Cruz. Since he announced, he’s enjoyed a rise in the polls and raised $4 million in campaign contributions, mostly in small amounts ……. Virginia: McAuliffe “bans the box.” Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) signed an executive order last week that requires state agencies to remove a question about a past criminal record from their employment applications. Fourteen cities and counties in Virginia already have “banned the box” asking about prior convictions. “We are now in the Lenten season…” McAuliffe said, reports the Washington Post. “It’s all about forgiveness and giving people second chances.” …….