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McConnell: Battle for control of the Senate will be a 'dogfight'

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellMcConnell shoots down Manchin's voting compromise Environmental groups urge congressional leaders to leave climate provisions in infrastructure package Loeffler meets with McConnell amid speculation of another Senate run MORE (R-Ky.) warned on Monday that the battle for control of the Senate in the November election will be a "dogfight," with neither party currently having a "lock" on winning the majority. 

McConnell, speaking to Fox News Radio, said Republicans are "on the defense" as they try to keep their Senate majority. Republicans are defending 23 seats, compared with 12 for Democrats, though many of them are in deep red states. 

"Let me just say that the Senate majority has not been a certainty at any point this cycle. We always knew from the beginning, and I've said consistently, that it's going to be a dogfight," McConnell said. 

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McConnell added that the makeup of the Senate map means Republicans have "a lot of exposure," where Democrats will try to unseat GOP incumbents. But he also pointed to Alabama and Michigan — where Democratic Sens. Doug Jones (Ala.) and Gary PetersGary PetersAbsences force Senate to punt vote on Biden nominee Senate Democrats investing M in Defend the Vote initiative Senior Biden cyber nominees sail through Senate hearing MORE (Mich.) are on the ballot — as "really good" pickup opportunities for Republicans. 

"I think it's a tough fight. We don't have a lock on it, nor do they. It's going to be a fight to the finish. Sort of like a knife fight in an alley," McConnell said.  

Democrats are feeling increasingly bullish about their chances of taking back the majority in November as tightening in several key races has put them increasingly in striking distance in states including Arizona, Colorado, Maine and North Carolina, where GOP Sens. Martha McSallyMartha Elizabeth McSallyMcGuire unveils Arizona Senate campaign On The Trail: Arizona is microcosm of battle for the GOP Gabby Giffords and Mark Kelly welcome first grandchild MORE (Ariz.), Cory GardnerCory GardnerBiden administration reverses Trump changes it says 'undermined' conservation program Gardner to lead new GOP super PAC ahead of midterms OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Court rules against fast-track of Trump EPA's 'secret science' rule | Bureau of Land Management exodus: Agency lost 87 percent of staff in Trump HQ relocation | GM commits to electric light duty fleet by 2035 MORE (Colo.), Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsSenate confirms Radhika Fox to lead EPA's water office Pelosi says she's giving Senate more time on Jan. 6 commission Overnight Energy: Schumer to trigger reconciliation process Wednesday | Bipartisan bill would ban 'forever chemicals' in cosmetics | Biden admin eyes step toward Trump-era proposal for uranium reserve MORE (Maine) and Thom TillisThomas (Thom) Roland TillisThe Hill's Morning Report - After high-stakes Biden-Putin summit, what now? On The Money: Yellen, Powell brush off inflation fears | Fed keeps rates steady, upgrades growth projections Bipartisan infrastructure group grows to 21 senators MORE (N.C.) are on the ballot. 

Democrats need to pick up three seats to win control of the chamber if the party also wins the White House or a net total of four seats to get an outright simple majority.  

The signs of momentum for Democrats come as their candidates have outraised GOP incumbents in Arizona, Colorado, Kentucky, Maine, Montana, North Carolina and South Carolina. 

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Meanwhile, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) had its best-ever first-quarter fundraising haul at $28 million, though the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) raised $30.3 million in the first three months of 2020. The DSCC, however, outraised its GOP counterpart in March, bringing in $11 million to the NRSC's $9.1 million.  

McConnell on Monday argued that it was "not new" that Democrats were outspending them and raising more money but noted that Republicans had held and expanded the majority in previous cycles. 

"I think it is also true that the Democrats are doing a better job of raising funds in recent years than we have. But we took the Senate in 2014, we kept it in 2016, we increased our number in 2018, so the fact that the Democrats are raising more money shouldn't raise any eyebrows," he said.