(AP) — In the 2012 Republican nominating contest, Sen. Jim DeMint is like the pretty girl all the boys want to take to the prom. Nearly every GOP presidential candidate has come a-courting the South Carolina Republican ahead of his state’s Jan. 21 primary.

A dean of the influential and well-funded tea party movement, DeMint has made it clear he’s sitting this one out.

The senator suggests he’s not feeling that special attraction to any of the candidates, whether it be front-runner Mitt Romney or one of his rivals, or feeling peer pressure to pair up for the big dance. Instead, he has his eye on another class of candidate entirely — those aiming to win enough Senate seats to flip the chamber from Democratic to Republican control.

“My priority is the Senate,” DeMint said this week in an interview, adding that it doesn’t matter who is elected president if Republicans don’t get a Senate majority. He’s again turning to his political action committee, Senate Conservatives Fund, to help candidates he wants to see elected to the Senate.

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