SIOUX CITY | Jeb Bush, the former governor of Florida, will be the keynote speaker for the 27th Siouxland Chamber of Commerce annual dinner, officials announced Tuesday. The event is Oct. 8.
"Gov. Bush is currently one of the most sought-after speakers on the national lecture circuit, and I am very pleased that he will be coming to our community to share his perspective on the key challenges facing America today," chamber Chairman Jim Jensen said at a press conference.
Bush served as the 43rd governor of Florida, from 1999 to 2007. He is the son of former President George H.W. Bush and Barbara Bush and brother of former President George W. Bush.
He has run a consulting business and an education reform group since leaving office and recently re-entered the national spotlight when he criticized the Republican Party's shift to the right, saying that Ronald Reagan would have had a "hard time" winning the votes of the GOP's more conservative members.
His name has been tossed around as a potential vice presidential pick for Mitt Romney and a possible 2016 candidate for the White House.
Jensen recognized that Bush's political past, which includes the 2000 Florida recount, might be controversial for some.
"Anytime you bring a speaker in, you want to have everyone love him," Jensen said, acknowledging that finding a political figure with universal appeal is difficult.
Chamber Ambassador Mike Schmidt said he was impressed by Tuesday's announcement.
"This will be awesome for Sioux City. It will give us a great perspective on the country and the political environment. With the election so close to the dinner, I think this will be a very exciting event," Schmidt said.
The annual event has brought in well-known names, including Judge Robert Bork in 1989, author and New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman in 2006 and Fox News Channel political analyst Juan Williams in 2011.
"We look for compelling speakers that people will be excited to come out and see," said Chris McGowan, chamber president.
The dinner will be at the Sioux City Convention Center. Tickets are $80 for chamber members and $95 for nonmembers.