SEN: News commentator and former George W. Bush strategist Matthew Dowd is considering challenging U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz as an independent. Because of the high rate of straight-party voting in Texas, an independent run for a statewide office is a long shot at best. Further, no independent candidate and just 10 minor party candidates for U.S. Senate in Texas have ever received more than 1% of the vote.

Only one candidate not running as a Democrat or Republican has ever received 5% of the vote in a race to represent Texas in the U.S. Senate: Socialist Party candidate T.A. Hickey in 1916.

In 2006, a pair of independent candidates for governor – former Comptroller Carole Keaton Strayhorn and humorist Kinky Friedman – combined to receive more than 30% of the vote. Straight-party voting was significantly lower that year compared to others, and the Democratic candidate was not competitive. Ross Perot Jr. received 22% of the vote running as an independent for president in 1992.

If elected, Dowd indicated he would caucus with neither party. There are currently two independents in the U.S. Senate. Sens. Angus King (I-Maine) and Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) caucus with the Democrats.

Redistricting: Citing the “voluminous record” of evidence presented at its two trials for the case, the three-judge panel handing long-running litigation over redistricting denied plaintiffs’ motion for an entry of judgment. “The relevant case law contains too many pages to count,” Judge Xavier Rodriguez wrote in the order denying the motion. “The Court continues to diligently work … and will issue an opinion as soon as possible.”

Pablos Appointed: Gov. Greg Abbott formally appointed attorney and economic development executive Rolando Pablos as Texas Secretary of State. He succeeds Carlos Cascos.