Vice President Joe Biden is returning to South Carolina this spring to speak in Columbia, The Post and Courier has learned.

Biden will be the featured speaker at the May 3 South Carolina Democratic Party’s annual Jefferson-Jackson dinner, its main fund-raiser, according to a source close to the party. Party executive director Amanda Loveday declined comment.

Biden is seen as a contender for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination, as are former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley.

O’Malley is expected to speak at an issues conference that state Democrats are planning to hold from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at West Ashley High School in Charleston on March 23.

Unlike President Barack Obama, Biden has made several trips to this state since the 2008 election, most recently a visit to the Charleston area last May for a $10,000-a-plate fund-raiser. He also visited Columbia in 2010 to help dedicate a University of South Carolina library to his friend and former Senate colleague, Ernest Hollings.

Obama has not returned since he won the state’s 2008 presidential primary.

Reach Robert Behre at 937-5771.