COLUMBIA — The capital city will be the center of the 2016 presidential universe on May 3.

With South Carolina Democrats already landing Vice President Joe Biden, a possible presidential contender, for the party’s May 3 fundraising dinner, a source close to the state GOP confirmed Tuesday that new U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, will headline the Republicans’ Silver Elephant banquet on the same night.

Both gatherings start at 7 p.m., with the GOP event being held at the State Fairgrounds and the Democratic Jefferson-Jackson Dinner at the Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center less than three miles away.

Elected in November, Cruz already is being mentioned as a possible presidential candidate.

His visit to the Palmetto State, home to the critical first-in-the-South presidential primaries, will only ramp up that speculation.

“He’s already showing out to be a conservative rock star,” said S.C. GOP Chairman Chad Connelly. “People love him. Our folks are delighted.”

Cruz’s visit will mark his first trip to an early presidential primary or caucus state.

The Republican banquet, the party’s main annual fundraiser, also will feature a tribute to former U.S. Sen. Jim DeMint, a Cruz endorser who resigned in December to head up the conservative Heritage Foundation.