A former presidential candidate, the wife of one, a syndicated columnist and a conservative radio talk-show host are the latest names added to the list of 2016 Bakersfield Business Conference speakers.

They are:

• Rick Perry, governor of Texas from December 2000 to January 2015 and a two-time presidential hopeful. As governor he was known for attracting businesses from across the country to his state plus improving education and border security, according to conference organizers.

“His vision for government with low taxes, sensible regulations and a fair legal system is one that we think will resound with many business conference attendees,” conference spokesman Brandon Martin wrote in a news release. “It’s no secret that during the last couple of years, he’s been looking at how to apply that vision not only to Texas, but to the nation as a whole.”

• Ann Romney, wife of 2012 GOP presidential nominee and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and a health advocate who founded the Ann Romney Center for Neurologic Diseases in Boston. During the 2010 Bakersfield Business Conference, when Mitt spoke, more than one attendee suggested hearing from Ann, conference organizer George Martin said.

“We’re happy to deliver on that suggestion,” George Martin said in the release. “Ann is a warm, kind woman who has overcome serious health concerns in order to bind together an extraordinary family under, sometimes, intense public scrutiny.”

• Hugh Hewitt a lawyer, law professor, broadcast journalist and nationally syndicated talk radio show host, sometimes called “the most influential conservative you’ve never heard of,” Brandon Martin said. He’s a frequent political commentator, has won Emmys for co-hosting a public affairs program and recently helped moderate a GOP presidential debate on CNN.

“Hugh is an intellectual conservative — in some respects, a little like early movement conservatism’s Bill Buckley, Irving Kristol and Russell Kirk — and he’s best in front of a smart crowd like our conference attendees,” Brandon Martin wrote. 

• Ruben Navarrette Jr., a syndicated columnist and leading voice on Latino affairs known for his “unpredictability and provocative thinking,” conference organizers say. His columns have appeared in The Californian, which is where George Martin has gotten to know his work. Navarrette is also from Fresno. 

“It’s not often that I have a chance to extend an invitation to speak at the conference to someone who is both one of the top 25 syndicated columnists in the country and someone who was born and raised in the San Joaquin Valley,” George Martin wrote. “Ruben has deep personal and professional connections to our region.”

The business conference, always a much-anticipated event that has brought some of the biggest names in the world to Bakersfield over the years, will be held Oct. 8. Tickets can be purchased online at bakersfieldbusinessconference.com or by calling 371-2204.

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