Texas: Cruz ahead in Iowa. With weeks of retail politicking paying off, Ted Cruz took the lead among Republicans in Iowa, whose first in the nation caucus will be held Feb. 1. According to a Monmouth University poll reported in The Hill, Cruz had 24%, Donald Trump was second with 19%, Marco Rubio 17% and Ben Carson, who once led in the state, now with 13% ……. Kentucky: Beshear issues pardons. On his last day in office, Gov. Steve Beshear (D) issued 201 pardons, reported the Lexington Herald-Leader. Ten of them were to women who had suffered years of domestic abuse. Several others were for drug offenses. Beshear said he received 3,400 requests for pardons and that his predecessor, former Gov. Ernie Fletcher (R), received 1,000 requests and issued 100 pardons ……. Virginia: Gearing up for 2017. In the Old Dominion, a lot of politicos are focused not on next year, but on 2017 when the state elects a new governor. Thus, on Monday, Ed Gillespie, a former Republican national chairman who lost a close challenge to US Sen. Mark Warner (D) in 2014, held his first fundraiser for his gubernatorial bid, bringing in an estimated $270,000 …….