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

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellTop aide: Biden expected to visit Georgia in push to boost Ossoff, Warnock Democrats brush off calls for Biden to play hardball on Cabinet picks Richmond says GOP 'reluctant to stand up and tell the emperor he wears no clothes' 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.

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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 PetersLeadership changes at top cyber agency raise national security concerns Hillicon Valley: Peters criticizes deficient healthcare cybersecurity investment | Apple defends delay of data privacy feature | Children groups warn about Parler Peters criticizes Trump for not taking action after cyberattacks on hospitals, COVID-19 researchers MORE (D-Mich.) is up for reelection, as a potentially vulnerable race, which the Cook Political Report ranks as "lean Democratic."

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But Republicans are also playing defense in several key races.

Republican Sens. Cory GardnerCory GardnerHillicon Valley: Trump fires top federal cybersecurity official, GOP senators push back | Apple to pay 3 million to resolve fight over batteries | Los Angeles Police ban use of third-party facial recognition software Senate passes bill to secure internet-connected devices against cyber vulnerabilities Democrats vent to Schumer over Senate majority failure MORE (Colo.), Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsTeam Trump offering 'fire hose' of conspiracy Kool-Aid for supporters Democrats brush off calls for Biden to play hardball on Cabinet picks Hogan 'embarrassed that more people' in the GOP 'aren't speaking up' against Trump MORE (Maine), Thom TillisThomas (Thom) Roland TillisTeam Trump offering 'fire hose' of conspiracy Kool-Aid for supporters Loeffler isolating after possible COVID-19 infection North Carolina's Mark Walker expected to announce Senate bid MORE (N.C.) and Martha McSallyMartha Elizabeth McSallyTrump nominee's long road to Fed may be dead end McSally, staff asked to break up maskless photo op inside Capitol McSally's final floor speech: 'I gave it my all, and I left it all on the field' MORE (Ariz.) are all in races that the Cook Political Report ranks as a toss-up.

Sens. David PerdueDavid PerduePoll: Majority say Trump should concede Biden moves forward as GOP breaks with Trump rise Majority say they want GOP in control of Senate: poll MORE (R-Ga.), Kelly LoefflerKelly LoefflerTeam Trump offering 'fire hose' of conspiracy Kool-Aid for supporters Loeffler to continue to self-isolate after conflicting COVID-19 test results Top aide: Biden expected to visit Georgia in push to boost Ossoff, Warnock MORE (R-Ga.), Joni ErnstJoni Kay ErnstThe Memo: Trump plows ahead with efforts to overturn election More conservatives break with Trump over election claims Peggy Noonan: 'Bogus dispute' by Trump 'doing real damage' MORE (R-Iowa), Steve DainesSteven (Steve) David DainesRick Scott tests positive for coronavirus Biden eyes new leadership at troubled public lands agency OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Barrasso to seek top spot on Energy and Natural Resources Committee | Forest Service finalizes rule weakening environmental review of its projects | Biden to enlist Agriculture, Transportation agencies in climate fight MORE (R-Mont.) and the open race in Kansas, where Sen. Pat RobertsCharles (Pat) Patrick RobertsTrump's controversial Fed nominee stalled after Senate setback Business groups scramble to forge ties amid race for House Agriculture chair Republicans hold on to competitive Kansas House seat 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.