McConnell plans to stay on as Senate GOP leader even if he loses majority

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellOn The Money: Senate leaves until September without coronavirus relief agreement | Weekly jobless claims fall below 1 million for first time since March | Trump says no Post Office funding means Democrats 'can't have universal mail-in voting' Overnight Health Care: Senate leaves until September without coronavirus relief deal | US records deadliest day of summer | Georgia governor drops lawsuit over Atlanta's mask mandate Senate leaves until September without coronavirus relief deal MORE (R-Ky.) said on Tuesday that he intends to stay on as Republican leader even if his party loses control of the upper chamber in November.

Asked if he intends to seek the GOP leader spot in the next Congress even if Republicans lose the majority, McConnell told reporters: "I do."

McConnell, who became GOP leader in 2007, is already the longest-serving Republican leader, a milestone he surpassed in 2018. He has been majority leader since 2015, when Republicans took control of the Senate. Before that he was minority leader starting in January 2007.

ADVERTISEMENT

McConnell's comments on Tuesday, which were first reported by Politico and confirmed to The Hill by a spokesman, come as Republicans are fighting to hold onto the Senate, where they currently have a 53-seat majority.

McConnell has warned that the battle for the Senate will be a "dogfight."

"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 added during a Fox News interview in April. 

Political handicappers have warned that Democrats are increasingly within striking distance of retaking the Senate in November, where they will need a net pickup of four seats to win an outright majority.

Sen. Doug Jones (D-Ala.) is viewed as particularly vulnerable and a prime pick-up opportunity for Republicans. They are also looking at Michigan, where Sen. Gary PetersGary Charles PetersTop Democrats say postmaster confirmed changes to mail service amid delays The Hill's Campaign Report: Trump's visit to battleground Ohio overshadowed by coronavirus Senate Democrats demand answers on migrant child trafficking during pandemic MORE (D-Mich.) is up for reelection, as a potentially vulnerable race, which the Cook Political Report ranks as "lean Democratic."

ADVERTISEMENT

But Republicans are also playing defense in several key races.

Republican Sens. Cory GardnerCory Scott GardnerTrump: GOP senators who don't embrace him will 'lose their elections' McConnell warns control of Senate 'could go either way' in November Senate Democrats ask Trump to withdraw controversial public lands nominee MORE (Colo.), Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsSusan Collins asks postmaster general to address delays of 'critically needed mail' Senate leaves until September without coronavirus relief deal Trump: GOP senators who don't embrace him will 'lose their elections' MORE (Maine), Thom TillisThomas (Thom) Roland TillisTrump: GOP senators who don't embrace him will 'lose their elections' The Hill's 12:30 Report - Speculation over Biden's running mate announcement Davis: The Hall of Shame for GOP senators who remain silent on Donald Trump MORE (N.C.) and Martha McSallyMartha Elizabeth McSallyTrump: GOP senators who don't embrace him will 'lose their elections' McConnell warns control of Senate 'could go either way' in November The Hill's Campaign Report: Biden picks Harris as running mate MORE (Ariz.) are all in races that the Cook Political Report ranks as a toss-up.

Sens. David Perdue (R-Ga.), Kelly LoefflerKelly LoefflerAndrew Clyde wins Georgia GOP runoff to replace Doug Collins Black VP politics and the case for Michigan's Gretchen Whitmer New poll shows tight presidential race in Georgia MORE (R-Ga.), Joni ErnstJoni Kay ErnstTrump: GOP senators who don't embrace him will 'lose their elections' The Hill's 12:30 Report - Speculation over Biden's running mate announcement Davis: The Hall of Shame for GOP senators who remain silent on Donald Trump MORE (R-Iowa), Steve DainesSteven (Steve) David DainesSenate Democrats ask Trump to withdraw controversial public lands nominee Davis: The Hall of Shame for GOP senators who remain silent on Donald Trump Lincoln Project expands GOP target list, winning Trump ire MORE (R-Mont.) and the open race in Kansas, where Sen. Pat RobertsCharles (Pat) Patrick RobertsMcConnell warns control of Senate 'could go either way' in November Davis: The Hall of Shame for GOP senators who remain silent on Donald Trump McConnell goes hands-off on coronavirus relief bill MORE (R-Kansas) is retiring, are all ranked as "lean Republican."

“As voters across the country grow increasingly fed up with Mitch McConnell’s corruption and gridlock in Washington, Republicans must answer whether they plan to vote to keep their toxic leader in charge if they are in the Senate next year,” Stewart Boss, spokesperson for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, said in a statement.