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If there’s one thing at which North Carolina truly dominates, it’s basketball. If there are two things, it’s basketball and awful politicians.

Since the March Madness tournament already has the basketball part covered, we decided to give you a chance to determine once and for all who is the absolute worst politician in North Carolina. Will it be Thom Tillis? Phil Berger? A dark-horse “Cinderella story” bid from Duane Hall? You get to decide!

Every day starting Thursday, March 21 at noon, we’ll post the day’s matchups on our Twitter page -- and then you’ll have 24 hours to vote in each matchup for the politician you think is worse. If you’re unfamiliar with any of the candidates, look for a brief roundup of all 64 contenders below.

Throughout the month, your votes will whittle down the bracket to the “Sleazy Sixteen,” the “Egregious Eight,” the “Foul Four,” and finally a championship matchup. The winner -- or loser, we should say -- will be awarded the Jesse Helms Dishonorary Championship Trophy to recognize the singular awfulness they contribute to our state.


March Madness 2019

Our bracket submission period has now ended. Round 1 winners are IN! 


WINNER US Sen. Thom Tillis 

NRA-backed opponent of the Affordable Care Act


Jim McVicker

Bladen County Sheriff linked to election fraud

William Brisson

HB2 supporter linked to Bladen election fraud


WINNER Joyce Krawiec

Told the Women's March "If brains were lard, you couldn't grease a small skillet."

WINNER Russell Walker

White supremacist who ran for NC House in 2018


Greg Murphy

HB2 supporter who voted to allow people to carry guns in church

WINNER David Rouzer

Wants to dismantle the Department of Education 


Carson Smith


Wants to force local sheriffs to act as ICE agents

 WINNER Michael Speciale 

Pro-secession, anti-LGBT, anti-puppy (yes, anti-puppy) House member


Mark Johnson

Told teachers $35K/year is "good enough" despite his six-figure salary

WINNER Mark Harris

Caught trying to rig the NC-09 race in 2018


 John Alexander

Supports NC Heritage PAC, which wants to block the removal of Confederate monuments

Richard Hudson

Gun fanatic who received $20,000 from the NRA and wants to weaken concealed carry permit requirements


 Cherie Berry

Elevator queen who loves to shaft workers who complain 

WINNER Pat McCrory

Championed HB2, then refused to concede his loss in 2016


Donny Lambeth

Dissed his fellow lawmakers -- "Quite frankly, there’s not a lot of depth of knowledge."  

WINNER Phil Berger

The Emperor Palpatine of the State Senate. Need we say more?


Kieth Kidwell

Lock-step supporter of Donald Trump, opposes Medicaid expansion as rural hospital closed in his Beaufort Co. district.

 Terry Johnson

Alamance Sheriff who illegally targeted Latinos


 WINNER Bob Steinburg

HB2 champion who assaulted his opponent's campaign manager in 2012` 

WINNER Michele Presnell

Opposes abortion even in cases of rape -- doesn't believe pregnancy could ever threaten a woman's life


 Bill Rabon

 Keeps voting against funding to clean up the Cape Fear River 


WINNER Robert Pittenger

Foot soldier in the War on Christmas -- "Let’s end political correctness and put the true meaning of Christ back in Christmas."


Brenden Jones

Used car salesman linked to absentee ballot fraud

 WINNER George Holding

Fell asleep while acting as the presiding officer of Congress


Michael Wray

Wray pushed legislation to spend millions in NC taxpayer money on a project that would boost his own property value.

McCrae Dowless

The guru of NC-09 election fraud


Rick Gunn 

Keeps voting against funding to clean up the Cape Fear River

WINNER Nelson Dollar

Architect of the 2013 tax hikes on working families


John Bell

Baselessly said judges and plaintiffs in the gerrymandering case had inappropriate relationships but didn't cite any evidence

WINNER Dan Forest

HB2 champion who took money from a church accused of beating gay people


 Dennis Riddell

Anti-LGBT, anti-choice House member who hired his wife as his legislative assistant

WINNER Richard Burr

Second-largest recipient of NRA campaign funding in the U.S. Senate


Carl Ford

Sponsored legislation to nullify legal same-sex marriages 

WINNER Ralph Hise

Accused of illegally taking money from his campaign account


Julia Howard

In support of HB2, she argued that "nobody wants a 200-pound male going into some changing room full of girls.” 

WINNER Larry Pittman

Gun nut who wants to arm teachers, blamed school shootings on "communist Democrats" (and that's just the tip of the iceberg)


 Brent Jackson

Sued for violating the Fair Labor Standards Act by migrant workers hired by his family's company

WINNER Cody Henson

Lawmaker accused of domestic violence & cyberstalking. Threatened to use a gun, but he still has his.


 Bill Cook

Wants to repeal plastic bag ban to "help businesses" but has no scientific evidence 

WINNER Jerry Tillman

Wants to arm teachers in order to make schools "safer"


Jody Greene

Columbus County Sheriff linked to election fraud

WINNER David Lewis

Ringleader behind unconstitutional voter suppression, racial gerrymandering, and court-tampering


John Faircloth

Filed a bill that let police withhold body worn and dashboard cameras 

WINNER Patrick McHenry

Payday lending stooge and Affordable Care Act opponent


Jon Hardister

He was for HB2 before he was against it 

WINNER Mark Meadows

Leader of the ultra-right-wing House Freedom Caucus


Debra Conrad

Flip-flopped multiple times on HB2

WINNER Tim Moore

Berger's sidekick, accused of using his position to profit from sweetheart real estate deals


Buddy Collins

Anti-LGBT ex-member of the State Board of Education

Tom Goolsby

UNC Board of Governors member and Silent Sam fetishist


WINNER Jason Saine

National chair of right-wing group ALEC, which pushes laws like the "Stand Your Ground" disaster

Trudy Wade

Tried to gerrymander the Greensboro City Council to help the GOP


WINNER Warren Daniel

Wants to arm teachers in order to make schools "safer"


Gun shop owner supported by the ultra-conservative Club For Growth


Marilyn Avila

Supported discriminatory voter ID law, falsely claiming "We have ID fraud that is rampant in this country" 

WINNER Mark Walker

Spent $200 of campaign funds on an NRA membership


Stony Rushing

NC-09 candidate and "Boss Hogg" cosplayer

WINNER Dan Bishop

Primary sponsor of HB2 -- need we say more?


Mark Brody

Tried to ban same-sex marriage by calling it a "religion"

Mike Causey

Insurance Commissioner linked to fraud investigation


 WINNER Harry Brown

Proposed a bill that would make sales taxes based on population by county instead of sales. This caused much public outcry and failure of the bill.

WINNER Virginia Foxx

Wants to end student loan forgiveness


Deanna Ballard

Supports the dismantling of public education through private vouchers and unaccountable charter schools