Sylvia Mathews Burwell sailed through Senate confirmation to be the next secretary of Health and Human Services on Thursday — but all three of the Republican senators eyeing a White House bid voted against her.

Sens. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzO'Rourke calls for Trump's impeachment over Putin summit Wisconsin GOP Senate candidate rips his own parents for donations to Dems The Memo: Trump leaves chaos in his wake in UK MORE (Texas), Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulThe Nation editor: Reaction by most of the media to Trump-Putin press conference 'is like mob violence' Lewandowski: Trump-Putin meeting advances goal of world peace Rand Paul to travel to Russia after downplaying election meddling MORE (Ky.) and Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioSenate weighs new Russia response amid Trump backlash Senate adds members to pro-NATO group McConnell reassures Europe on Russia MORE (Fla.) were three of just 17 senators to vote against confirming Burwell, while more than 20 other Republicans backed her. This is the latest time they’ve joined the right flank of the Senate to buck bipartisan legislation or confirmations.

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The trio have long been keeping an eye on one another, making sure they don’t give anyone a chance to hit them from the right in a GOP primary (with Rubio’s immigration push being the glaring exception). And while Burwell’s nomination is unlikely to become a major campaign issue two years from now, it’s the latest sign they may struggle to move back to the center should any of them win the GOP nomination.

 

SENATE SHOWDOWN

MS-SEN (COCHRAN): State Sen. Chris McDaniel got off to a rocky start in the runoff contest with Sen. Thad CochranWilliam (Thad) Thad CochranTodd Young in talks about chairing Senate GOP campaign arm US farming cannot afford to continue to fall behind Mississippi Democrat drops Senate bid MORE (R-Miss.), struggling to explain why a staffer and two supporters his campaign sent to a county courthouse long after ballot counting was over Tuesday night ended up locked in the courthouse for more than an hour. The Hinds County Sheriff’s Office investigated the matter and found that none of the individuals had engaged in any criminal activity, but it gave Cochran’s team fodder for attacks, with spokesman Jordan Russell declaring the McDaniel campaign “full of criminals.”

Meanwhile, National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman Jerry MoranGerald (Jerry) MoranLobbying world This week: GOP mulls vote on ‘abolish ICE’ legislation Hillicon Valley: Lawmakers eye ban on Chinese surveillance cameras | DOJ walks back link between fraud case, OPM breach | GOP senators question Google on Gmail data | FCC under pressure to delay Sinclair merger review MORE (Kan.) said Thursday it's a "much clearer race" for Republicans if Cochran wins, but that the committee would ultimately back McDaniel if he wins.

LA-SEN (LANDRIEU): In his first ad of the Louisiana Senate race, Rep. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) addresses the camera wearing his doctor’s coat while holding a copy of the Affordable Care Act, decrying lawmakers who supported it without reading it and touting his opposition to the law.

AK-SEN (BEGICH): Alaska Senate candidate Dan Sullivan (R) fires back at Sen. Mark BegichMark Peter BegichFormer Alaska senator jumps into governor race Overnight Energy: Trump directs Perry to stop coal plant closures | EPA spent ,560 on customized pens | EPA viewed postcard to Pruitt as a threat Perez creates advisory team for DNC transition MORE (D-Alaska) in a new ad, responding to Begich making fun of him for filming an ad on a building that Begich helped secure funding to build.

“It must be election time. Mark Begich is pretending to ride snow machines, and taking credit for other people’s work,” he says in the spot. “Now, he’s even giving me advice on political ads! I’m not a career politician like Mark, but I thought I’d return the favor. Mark, in your next ad, tell us why you vote with Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaTrump has the right foreign policy strategy — he just needs to stop talking The Hill's 12:30 Report — Trump faces bipartisan criticism over Putin presser, blames media for coverage Wall Street Journal editorial board rips Trump on Helsinki: It was a 'national embarrassment' MORE 97 percent of the time.”

KY-SEN (MCCONNELL): Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes drew ridicule from Republicans for using a stock photo of a European male model posing as a coal miner in a campaign ad hitting President Obama for his energy policies. Her campaign said the version of the ad circulated to reporters last week was not the final version, and that they swapped out the European model for a photo shot by an American photographer.

VA-SEN (WARNER): Former Republican National Committee Chairman Ed Gillespie (R) outlined his economic plan in a conference call just days before he’s expected to win the nomination at the GOP’s state convention on Saturday, hitting Sen. Mark WarnerMark Robert WarnerSenate Dems press for info on any deals from Trump-Putin meeting Overnight Defense: Trump tries to quell Russia furor | GOP looks to reassure NATO | Mattis open to meeting Russian counterpart Hillicon Valley: Trump tries to quell Russia furor | Sparks fly at hearing on social media | First House Republican backs net neutrality bill | Meet the DNC's cyber guru | Sinclair defiant after merger setback MORE (D-Va.) on energy production and ObamaCare. Gillespie dodged when asked whether he believes that global warming is being caused by human activity. 

OK-SEN (OPEN): Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) will appear at a campaign event with Rep. James Lankford (R-Okla.) this weekend, but a Lankford staffer said the appearance doesn’t amount to an endorsement. Lankford is battling former Oklahoma Speaker T.W. Shannon for the GOP nomination to replace retiring Sen. Tom CoburnThomas (Tom) Allen CoburnThe real disease: Price transparency key to saving Medicare and lowering the debt Mr. President, let markets help save Medicare Pension insolvency crisis only grows as Congress sits on its hands MORE (R-Okla.).

MI-SEN (OPEN): Rep. Gary Peters (D-Mich.) is out with a Web video parodying Seinfeld to say Terri Lynn Land (R)’s campaign is about “nothing.”

IA-SEN (OPEN): Iowa state Sen. Joni Ernst’s (R) campaign is crying “fowl,” claiming Rep. Bruce BraleyBruce Lowell BraleyOPINION | Tax reform, not Trump-McConnell feuds, will make 2018 a win for GOP Ten years later, House Dems reunite and look forward Trump: Ernst wanted 'more seasoning' before entertaining VP offer MORE’s (D-Iowa) new ad portraying her as a baby bird is "degrading women by comparing Joni Ernst to a 'chick' in his latest campaign ad" in a complaint echoed by some national GOP strategists. The ad never uses the word chick.

 

BATTLE FOR THE HOUSE

WV-03 (RAHALL): A new poll conducted by a Democratic pollster for House Majority PAC, which is backing Rep. Nick RahallNick Joe RahallWe shouldn't allow politics to impede disaster relief Break the cycle of partisanship with infant, child health care programs Clinton mulls role in 2018 midterms MORE (D), shows him leading his Republican challenger Evan Jenkins, 52-39 — about the same as an April poll from the same group.

MI-3 (AMASH): Reps. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) and Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) are headlining a fundraiser for Rep. Justin AmashJustin AmashHouse conservatives criticize media, not Trump, for Putin furor Watchdog: First lady spokeswoman may have violated Hatch Act with ‘MAGA’ tweet GOP Rep. Amash slams Kavanaugh on government surveillance rulings MORE’s (R-Mich.) primary opponent, businessman Brian Ellis (R). Both have long been harshly critical of the libertarian-leaning Amash on foreign policy.

CA-33 (OPEN): Retiring Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) endorsed California state Sen. Ted Lieu (D) for his seat, the day after Lieu and a long-shot Republican advanced in the primary.

MN-8 (NOLAN): Republican Stewart Mills rolled out his first ad, a spot saying he learned at his family hunting camp that you shouldn’t complain about things, you should fix them, and that he wants to go “fix” Washington.

 

2016 WATCH

CLINTON: Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonOvernight Defense: Trump tries to quell Russia furor | GOP looks to reassure NATO | Mattis open to meeting Russian counterpart Dem pollster: GOP women have a more difficult time winning primary races than Dems Mellman: (Mis)interpreting elections MORE, asked about her vote for the Iraq War, said “I still got it wrong. Plain and simple." The vote continues to dog her with some liberals.

She also said she continues to take blood thinners after doctors found a blood clot between her brain and skull in 2012. But she told People magazine she has no lingering effects from a concussion that she suffered shortly before the clot was discovered.

 

QUOTE OF THE DAY

“I haven’t received any response from people here because, as you know, no one knows who the hell I am.” — Thomas Carey, the third Republican candidate for Senate in Mississippi who drew 2 percent support in the primary Tuesday night, pushing the race to a runoff