(CNN) – One of the most sought-after South Carolina politicians said Monday he would not endorse a candidate ahead of the Palmetto State's primary.
Sen. Jim DeMint, who has offered praise to all of the candidates in the field, said in a statement, "I do not have a favorite in this race and I will not endorse a candidate."
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DeMint said his stance reflected the view of many voters in South Carolina.
"I've gotten to know each of the candidates over the past year and they are all far superior to Obama," DeMint said. "My view reflects what I've heard from Republican voters across South Carolina who remain divided in this race."
DeMint would have been a big get for any candidate in the GOP field, given his high regard among conservative voters. Many of the contenders have met with the senator in person, looking to gain his backing.
DeMint is considered a tea party favorite for his uncompromising stance on government spending, and was influential in endorsing candidates in the 2010 midterm elections. He was one of the first establishment Republicans to get behind Florida Sen. Marco Rubio in his primary battle with incumbent Republican Charlie Crist, and also supported the winning candidacies of Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky and Sen. Mike Lee of Utah.
In the 2008 primary battle, DeMint backed former Massachusetts governor and current GOP candidate Mitt Romney.
South Carolina Republicans hold their primary election January 21.