Cruz to keynote SC Tea Party event
© Greg Nash

Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzTed Cruz and Bill Nelson give NASA a reality check on privatizing International Space Station Ten dead after shooting at Texas high school Hillicon Valley: Lawmakers target Chinese tech giants | Dems move to save top cyber post | Trump gets a new CIA chief | Ryan delays election security briefing | Twitter CEO meets lawmakers MORE (R-Texas) will headline the South Carolina Tea Party Coalition Convention this month, joining a pair of other potential presidential candidate also weighing bids to enter the 2016 field.

Cruz is listed as the “featured speaker” on the group’s website. The roster of speakers also includes former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.), who ran for president in 2012, and Ben Carson, the Tea Party favorite and former neurosurgeon who’s debating entering the fray.

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Joe Dugan, the convention’s executive producer, told Breitbart News that the event gives the potential candidates a forum with active GOP voters just a year before South Carolina’s primary.

“I think true conservatives like Senator Cruz are very astute in reaching out to the grassroots at this early stage,” he said. 

“These are the people who will control the ground game before the all important South Carolina GOP Presidential primary. These are the people who will knock on the doors, and man the phone banks with a zeal and persistence that Establishment big money cannot buy.”

Whether by causation or correlation, the winner of the South Carolina primary has gone on to secure the Republican nomination in every year except 2012, when former Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) won. The primary, which began in 1980, is typically an important early momentum-builder for presidential candidates.

Cruz, Santorum and Carson are all popular presidential picks for the Tea Party and staunch conservative Republicans. Cruz and Carson placed fifth and sixth respectively in an ABC News/Washington Post poll of Republican leaning voters from December. Santorum finished 14th.

The freshman Texas senator won the Value Voters Summit’s presidential straw poll in September, and Carson won the Conservative Political Action Committee poll in August.

Reps. Jim BridenstineJames (Jim) Frederick BridenstineOvernight Energy: EPA moves to roll back chemical plant safety rule | NASA chief says humans contribute to climate change | Pruitt gets outside lawyer Trump's new NASA head: Humans contributing in 'major way' to climate change The NASA drone headed for Mars MORE (R-Okla.) and Louie GohmertLouis (Louie) Buller GohmertWhite House-backed prison reform bill advances in House GOP Rep. Zeldin to lead call for second special counsel Doug Collins to run for House Judiciary chair MORE (R-Texas) will also speak at the Jan. 18 event.