Do you know the people who run your state?

Politics is about people. That's why we set out to rank the people who are making the biggest difference in our state's political world in 2018. The list encompasses the top 50 elected officials, fundraisers, donors, consultants and politicos who get things done in North Carolina today.

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Sen. Phil Berger

The President Pro Tempore of the North Carolina Senate for the last eight years has his hand firmly on the reins of state policy and is a wildly successful fundraiser.


Rep. Tim Moore

The Speaker of the North Carolina House is jointly responsible for state policy and has built a reputation for smartly explaining what the General Assembly is doing.


Franklin Graham

The influential pastor and son of Rev. Billy Graham has a massive following and regularly wades in to the world of politics. His endorsement carries tremendous weight.


Lt. Gov. Dan Forest

The second-term lieutenant governor is a favorite of social conservatives and likely gubernatorial candidate in 2020. He draws a crowd.


U.S. Rep. Patrick McHenry

The Gastonia Republican was first elected to Congress at age 33 and is now the de facto leader of the N.C. delegation.


Gov. Roy Cooper

While constrained by a Republican supermajority, Cooper's approval ratings and fundraising ability are sky-high.


U.S. Sen. Richard Burr

North Carolina's senior senator is the state's most prominent person in Washington since Jesse Helms.


Rep. Nelson Dollar

The state House's chief budget writer is the primary person who determines where all the money goes.


Sen. Harry Brown

The Onslow Republican is the budget chief in the N.C. Senate and the highest-ranking politician in coastal North Carolina.


U.S. Rep. Mark Meadows

The Republican from Jackson County is the chairman of the powerful conservative Freedom Caucus and is quickly building a name for himself in national politics.

Sen. Jeff Jackson

The Charlotte Democrat is a top fundraiser and communicator leading the push to break the Republican majority in the General Assembly.

Lynn Good

The CEO of Duke Energy has the ear of North Carolina's leaders.

William Barber

The former head of the N.C. NAACP orchestrated the Moral Monday demonstrations and is now thinking bigger.

Mark Jewell

The head of the North Carolina Association of Educators commands the state's most powerful interest group.

Sen. Dan Blue

The Wake County Democrat is the party's top fundraiser in the General Assembly and the Senate minority leader.

U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis

North Carolina's junior senator is getting good press in Washington.

Tom Apodaca

The former influential lawmaker and chairman of the Senate Rules Committee is now a lobbyist representing powerful clients like Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina and Rex Hospital.

Josh Stein

North Carolina's attorney general is a ready-made future Democratic nominee for governor.

Jim Hunt

The Democrat was elected to a four terms as governor and is still a driving force in the party.

Jack W. Daly

The Pinehurst attorney is a top donor to Republican causes and has raised money for presidents from Bush to Trump.

Louis DeJoy + Aldona Wos

This husband and wife team are prominent philanthropists and donors to Republican causes. Woz was secreatry of the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services under Gov. Pat McCrory.

Steve Troxler

The long-time commissioner of agriculture is respected in both parties and has the support of family farmers.

Lew Ebert

He's the president of the nonpartisan ‎North Carolina Chamber of Commerce.

Jim Martin

The two-term governor in the 80s and 90s gave rise to the state's modern Republican Party and is still one of its philosophical leaders.

Morgan Jackson

The co-founder of Nexus Strategies is an advisor to Gov. Roy Cooper and has represented numerous Fortune 500 firms.

Doug Lebda

The CEO of Charlotte-based LendingTree is the business muscle behind the 2020 Republican National Convention.

Ken Eudy

The founder of Capstrat is now Gov. Roy Cooper's top advisor.

Pat McCrory

The former governor is still very popular among North Carolina Republicans and could be a force in 2020.

Sen. Terry Van Duyn

The Democratic Whip from Buncombe County is a rising star.

Rep. Jimmy Dixon

The Duplin County Republican chairs the powerful agriculture committee and leads legislative efforts around farming.

Fred Eshelman

The Wilmington pharmaceutical executive is a top Republican donor in the state.

Greg Lindberg

The founder of Durham-based Eli Global is one of the biggest funders of both Republican and Democratic causes.

Erskine Bowles

The former White House chief of staff and Senate candidate is a force for reasonableness in national politics and still one of the most prominent Democratic connectors.

John Sall

The billionaire co-founder of SAS is a major philanthropist and Democratic donor.

Jim Goodnight

The other billionaire co-founder of SAS is the richest person in North Carolina and a top Republican donor.

Art Pope

The former retail executive has long been a prominent funder of conservative causes. He also was the state's budget director under Gov. Pat McCrory.

Paul Shumaker

The founder of Capitol Communications is known nationally as the "data guy" for North Carolina Republicans.

Jay Faison

The Republican donor has made climate change and the environment his primary cause through the ClearPath Foundation.

Frank Emory

The Charlotte attorney is running North Carolina's Economic Development Partnership

Dee Stewart

The political consultant has worked with some of the top Republicans in the state, including Phil Berger, Tim Moore and Patrick McHenry.

Dana Simpson

The partner at Raleigh law firm Smith Anderson runs its government relations practice and is always atop North Carolina's most influential lobbyist lists.

Tom Fetzer

The UNC Board of Governors member is one of the state's most connected lobbyists and former chairman of the state Republican Party.

Harold Brubaker

After 35 years in the state House, he's now a powerful lobbyist.

Rep. Craig Horn

The Republican from Weddington is one of the General Assembly's top policymakers on education.

Brad Crone

The president of Campaign Connections has been a force in N.C. politics for nearly 30 years.

Hal Weatherman

The chief of staff to Lt. Gov. Dan Forest spent more than a decade working for Sue Myrick and will next likely run Forest's gubernatorial campaign.

Chris Sinclair

The partner with influential Cornerstone Solutions dominates political digital and traditional media communication.

Maurice "Mo" Green

The executive director of the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation is also an attorney and accomplished educator.

John Turcotte

As head of the Program Evaluation Division of the Legislative Services Commission, he's calling balls and strikes on crucial bills.

Sharon Decker

The former commerce secretary under Gov. Pat McCrory, Decker is now Chief Operating Officer at Tryon International Equestrian Center and sits on several powerful corporate and university boards.

This ranking was last updated in August 2018. We'll revisit it annually. Have a comment? Send it our way at