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 CruzTed CruzConservative House leader urges GOP to not give up on ObamaCare repeal Cruz: Many Americans feel betrayed by failure to repeal ObamaCare Ex-Cruz aide: Trump presidency 'is effectively over' MORE (Texas), Rand PaulRand PaulMcCain returning to Arizona to start cancer treatment Monday: report Paul blocks McConnell from setting up defense bill vote Overnight Defense: Military won't lift transgender ban until Trump sends directions | House passes national security spending | Russian sanctions bill heads to Trump MORE (Ky.) and Marco RubioMarco RubioEx-Cruz aide: Trump presidency 'is effectively over' Mexican politicians have a new piñata: Donald Trump Bush ethics lawyer: Congress must tell Trump not to fire Mueller 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 CochranThad CochranBoth sides of the aisle agree — telemedicine is the future Overnight Finance: GOP offers measure to repeal arbitration rule | Feds fine Exxon M for Russian sanctions violations | Senate panel sticks with 2017 funding levels for budget | Trump tax nominee advances | Trump unveils first reg agenda Senate committee ignores Trump, House budgets in favor of 2017 funding levels 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 MoranJerry MoranSenate rejects ObamaCare repeal, replacement amendment Live coverage: Senate begins debate on ObamaCare repeal Senate healthcare bill appears headed for failure 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 BegichPerez creates advisory team for DNC transition The future of the Arctic 2016’s battle for the Senate: A shifting map 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 ObamaBiden thanks GOP healthcare bill opponents after skinny ObamaCare repeal failure FDA gives cigar, e-cig makers more time to get products approved GOP lawmaker: Time for us to listen to Democrats on healthcare 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 WarnerBoth sides of the aisle agree — telemedicine is the future Google announces million initiative for displaced workers Overnight Tech: House GOP wants to hear from tech CEOs on net neutrality | SEC eyes cryptocurrency | Elon Musk, Zuckerberg trade jabs over AI | Trump says Apple opening three plants in US 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 CoburnTom CoburnThe more complex the tax code, the more the wealthy benefit Congress, stop using our nation's military policy for political purposes Congress must rid itself of political 'pork' to preserve its integrity 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 BraleyTen years later, House Dems reunite and look forward Trump: Ernst wanted 'more seasoning' before entertaining VP offer Criminal sentencing bill tests McConnell-Grassley relationship 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 RahallLikely W.Va. Senate GOP rivals spar in radio appearances West Virginia is no longer Clinton country Solution needed: Rail congestion is stifling economic growth 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 AmashOvernight Defense: Military won't lift transgender ban until Trump sends directions | House passes national security spending | Russian sanctions bill heads to Trump Overnight Finance: House passes spending bill with border wall funds | Ryan drops border tax idea | Russia sanctions bill goes to Trump's desk | Dems grill bank regulator picks House approves spending bill with funds for Trump's border wall 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 Rodham ClintonSally Yates: Justice system 'may be broken beyond recognition' under Trump Trump event taking place on Crooked Hill Road Trump job approval swings lower 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