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Day 4: Election Home Stretch and Legion Night

The 2014 version of Texas Boys State hit the halfway point Wednesday morning as statesmen headed to the polls for primary elections in all races except House and Senate. The early election of the upper and lower chambers cleared the way for members to get to work on legislation Wednesday. However, numerous races remain undecided at the county and district levels.

A unique twist on the activities featured a morning rotation period allowing statesmen not involved in other activities to attend three panel discussions. One panel included a discussion on party politics featuring candidates from the Green and Constitution parties. The second panel included a presentation from lobbyists and their role in the political process. The final panel discussion featured staff from The Texas Tribune. Ayan Mittra, assistant managing editor, Neena Satija, environmental reporter, and Morgan Smith, education reporter, took numerous questions from statesmen about their roles in the "fourth estate".

Afternoon activities offer statesmen a number of opportunities, including band, city olympiad, tours of The University of Texas-Austin campus. Members of the Boys State Legislature do not participate in these activities because the focus of their Texas Boys State experience now becomes their legislative activities. Another unique opportunity is the annual Texas Boys State talent show, which always proves to be one of the highlights of the week. Tryouts for the show continued on Wednesday.

Wednesday's evening activities include a full slate of visitors. The final slate of visiting dignitaries includes one Texas Supreme Court Justice, one state senator, three state representatives, congressional staffers, political candidates, and others. The dignitaries meet with mayors from the various cities before appearing before all of Texas Boys State at the lowering of the colors in the evening. The visiting dignitaries will then address the cities for a few minutes and even have the option of enjoying dinner with statesmen at Jester Center West dining facilities.

After dinner, statesmen will attend another general assembly at the LBJ Auditorium. Tonight's keynote speaker is Brigadier General Joe E. Ramirez '79, the commandant of the Corps of Cadets at Texas A&M University. Gen. Ramirez is a renowned public speaker, known for sharing his passion for service with audiences around the country. In the audience of 920 statesmen are, doubtless, numerous future cadets at Texas A&M. These young men are sure to enjoy hearing from their future commandant.

One special highlight of tonight's activities is the title: Legion Night. The American Legion, Department of Texas, is the key sponsoring organization of Texas Boys State. Without the department's generous support, Texas Boys State would not be the training ground for future leaders it is today. It is our honor and privilege to host numerous Legionnaires who have not only served our country with dignity, but also support Texas Boys State so it can continue to influence the lives of hundreds of young men across the state each year.

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