McInnis defeats challenger Lexo in Republican primary

By: By William R. Toler - Editor

ROCKINGHAM — Tom McInnis is heading toward his third term — pending a victory in November — in the N.C. Senate after defeating challenger Michelle Lexo in the Republican primary on Tuesday.

McInnis, R-Richmond, won the seat in the 2014 election after defeating incumbent Democrat Gene McLaurin, who only served one term. He defeated another female challenger, Anson County educator Dannie Montgomery, in 2016.

The new Senate map takes away Stanly and part of Rowan County from McInnis’ district, but adds Moore County to the remaining Richmond, Anson and Scotland.

McInnis handily won his home county, as well as Scotland and Anson by wide margins. Though the vote was a little tighter in Moore County, he still garnered more than Lexo (6,127 to 5,356).

He could not be reached for comment by deadline Tuesday night.

Last year, McInnis introduced several bills that made into the statute books, including: one prohibiting the shooting of a firearm or bow and arrow from the right of way in Richmond County; one allowing the use of outdoor grills for restuarants; and one allowing the use of photo or video evidence for civil penalties against anyone who passes a stopped school bus.

McInnis was also a primary sponsor of the Strengthen Opioid Misuse Prevention Act. Although the Senate version lingered in committee, a similar version in the N.C. House of Representatives passed and was signed by Gov. Roy Cooper last June.

Lexo, of Whispering Pines in Moore County, made history in 2015 when she became the village’s first female mayor, after serving three years on the council. She also serves on several county committees.

McInnis will face Democrat Helen Probst Mills at the polls in November.

Mills was appointed last year by the governor to the Sandhills Community College Board of Trustees. She also serves on the college’s Foundation Board, where she helped develop a program allowing high school graduates to attend for two years without having to pay tuition.

Mills also serves as development chair fo the Northern Moore Family Resource Center in Robbins, which has opened preschool and is developing a community center.

She has gained the support of prominent Richmond County Democrats McLaurin and Wayne Goodwin, chairman of the N.C. Democratic Party.

All votes are unofficial until canvassing on May 18.

Reach William R. Toler at 910-817-2675 or



By William R. Toler