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If there’s one thing at which North Carolina truly dominates, it’s basketball. If there’s 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 15 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.

Our bracket entries are now closed.  Stay tuned for the winners!

US Sen. Thom Tillis ✅

NRA-backed opponent of the Affordable Care Act

VS.

Buddy Collins

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


Buck Newton ✅

Champion of HB2 who wanted to "keep our state straight"

VS.

Joyce Krawiec

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


 Duane Hall ✅

Refused to resign despite multiple credible allegations of sexual harassment

VS.

Jerry Tillman

Okay with charter schools excluding poor kids


Bob Rucho ✅

Architect of the Senate's racial gerrymandering plan, bad JFK impersonator

VS.

Mike Lee

Keeps voting against funding to clean up the Cape Fear River


 Michael Speciale ✅

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

VS.

  William Brisson

HB2 supporter and ex-Democrat who decided it would be easier to get reelected as a Republican


 Dallas Woodhouse ✅

Drunkenly admitted to breaking IRS campaign finance rules in a TV interview on election night

VS.

 John Alexander

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


 Nelson Dollar ✅

Architect of the 2013 tax hikes on working families

VS.

 Cherie Berry

Elevator queen who loves to shaft workers who complain


 Pat McCrory ✅

Championed HB2, then refused to concede his loss in 2016

VS.

 Dennis Riddell

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


Richard Burr ✅

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

VS.

 Mike Clampitt

 Constantly seen waving the Confederate flag and posing with people in full confederate gear


Ralph Hise

Accused of illegally taking money from his campaign account

VS.

 Bob Steinburg ✅

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


Larry Pittman ✅

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

VS.

 Greg Murphy

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


Chad Barefoot ✅

HB2 champion who is the son-in-law of anti-LGBT crusader Tami Fitzgerald

VS.

 Bill Cook

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


David Rouzer

Wants to dismantle the Department of Education

VS.

 Jonathan Jordan ✅

HB2 co-sponsor who voted to gut environmental regulations for businesses and used campaign funds to buy an NRA membership


David Lewis ✅

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

VS.

 Joel Ford

Supported anti-LGBT legislation such as Amendment One in 2012 and SB2 in 2015


Patrick McHenry ✅

Payday lending stooge and Affordable Care Act opponent

VS.

 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.


Mark Meadows ✅

Leader of the ultra-right-wing House Freedom Caucus

VS.

Dan Barrett

 

Supports the partisan gerrymandering of our state courts 


Phil Berger✅

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

VS.

Carl Ford

Sponsored legislation to nullify legal same-sex marriages


Wes Meredith✅

Anti-ACA state senator who was busted for Medicaid fraud in 2014

VS.

Julia Howard

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


Michele Presnell✅

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

VS.

 Brent Jackson

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


Robert Pittenger✅

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

VS.

Marilyn Avila

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


 George Holding

Fell asleep while acting as the presiding officer of Congress

VS.

 Mark Johnson✅

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


Justin Burr✅

Architect of the 2018 judicial gerrymandering plan who spent campaign money on Brooks Brothers suits

VS.

Rick Gunn 

Keeps voting against funding to clean up the Cape Fear River


Richard Hudson✅

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

VS.

 John Bell

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


Dan Forest✅

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

VS.

 Donny Lambeth

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


Tim Moore✅

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

VS.

 John Blust

In an argument for keeping Confederate statues standing, Blust said that he vehemently disagrees with "modern liberalism" which seeks to "condemn anyone who d[oes] not hold present day views on race and equality." Essentially, Blust self-proclaimed himself a racist.


Chris Malone

He was for HB2 before he was against it

VS.

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

VS.

 Bill Rabon

 Keeps voting against funding to clean up the Cape Fear River


Ted Budd

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

VS.

 Louis Pate✅

Wants to eliminate food stamps from the state budget, which would cause 133,000 people (including 50,000 children) to go hungry


Mark Walker✅

Spent $200 of campaign funds on an NRA membership

VS.

 Tamara Barringer

She was for HB2 before he was against it


Dan Bishop✅

Primary sponsor of HB2 -- need we say more?

VS.

John Faircloth

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


Walter Jones

Has taken over $50,000 from the NRA, the most of any NC congressman

VS.

Jon Hardister ✅

He was for HB2 before he was against it


Virginia Foxx✅

Wants to end student loan forgiveness

VS.

 Jeff Tarte

He was for HB2 before he was against it