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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


    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


    Joyce Krawiec

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

    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

    David Rouzer

    Wants to dismantle the Department of Education 


    Carson Smith


    Wants to force local sheriffs to act as ICE agents

     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

    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


     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."  

    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


     Bob Steinburg

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

    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









    Mike Lee

    Keeps voting against funding to clean up the Cape Fear River

    Okay with charter schools excluding poor kids

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



     Nelson Dollar

    Architect of the 2013 tax hikes on working families



     Pat McCrory

    Championed HB2, then refused to concede his loss in 2016


     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


     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



    Larry Pittman

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


     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


     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


     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


     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


     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


    Dan Barrett


    Supports the partisan gerrymandering of our state courts 


    Carl Ford

    Sponsored legislation to nullify legal same-sex marriages

    Wes Meredith

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


    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


     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."


    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



    Justin Burr

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


    Rick Gunn 

    Keeps voting against funding to clean up the Cape Fear River


     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



    Tim Moore

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


     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


    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



    Ted Budd

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


     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


     Tamara Barringer

    She was for HB2 before he was against it

    Dan Bishop

    Primary sponsor of HB2 -- need we say more?


    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


    Jon Hardister

    He was for HB2 before he was against it

    Virginia Foxx

    Wants to end student loan forgiveness


     Jeff Tarte

    He was for HB2 before he was against it