(CNN) – It seems it's really never too early to visit Iowa.
The Hawkeye State's Republican Party announced Tuesday that Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, a rising star in the GOP, will headline one of its major fundraising dinners.
Paul becomes the third Republican who may be thinking of making a bid for the 2016 GOP nomination to pay a visit this spring to the state traditionally kicks off the presidential caucus and primary calendar.
Iowa Republican Party Chairman AJ Spiker made the announcement, saying in an email that "Senator Rand Paul will headline our Lincoln Day Dinner on Friday, May 10th! I'm tremendously excited about it and I wanted to make sure you knew about it right away."
Paul, whose father ran for president three times, has openly discussed the possibility of mounting a bid for the White House in the next presidential election.
Also very public about 2016 is former Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, a 2012 GOP presidential candidate. He'll keynote the Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition's spring meeting on April 15. The Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition is a leading social conservative group in the state.
Santorum, once considered a long shot in the 2012 nomination hunt, narrowly came out on top in last year's Iowa caucuses, and battled eventual nominee Mitt Romney deep into the primary season.
And Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker will headline the May 23 Polk County, Iowa Republican party fundraising dinner. Walker became a national name and a hero to conservatives two years ago when he pushed through the state legislature a bill that limited the collective bargaining rights of public sector workers. The move sparked massive protests which resulted in a recall election, which Walker won. In interviews over the weekend, Walker said he was open to the possibility of running for president, but on Monday said he loves being Wisconsin governor and is not running for any other office.
While the Iowa caucuses are still more than two and a half years away, for some potential candidates, the clock is already ticking.
"Campaigns for president are no longer twelve month campaigns, they are now three or four year long campaigns, especially for people who have to raise small donations, who can't write their own large checks. They have to start working these things early," John Brabender, a senior adviser to Santourm, told CNN.
And Iowans are used to the attention.
"Iowans take very seriously their responsibility. They truly kick the tires," added Brabender, who's made many trips to the Hawkeye state the past couple of years.
Paul, Santorum, and Walker aren't actually the first of the possible 2016 Republican presidential hopefuls to make a stop in Iowa since last November's presidential election. Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida headlined a birthday fundraiser for Terry Branstad, the Hawkeye State's GOP governor, a few weeks after the election. Rubio aides downplayed any 2016 talk at the time, saying that Branstad ran into Rubio at the Republican convention in Florida last summer and asked him to headline the annual dinner.