Though the formal announcement came in Savannah, state Sen. Earl “Buddy” Carter announced Monday his intention to run for U.S. congress in Georgia’s 1st District in Bradwell Park.
The Pooler-based Republican, who represents much of Liberty County, spoke to a crowd of about 20 people about his background, values and priorities.
The Port Wentworth native owns Carter’s Pharmacy, which has locations in Pooler, Rincon and Garden City. He laid the foundation of his speech by talking about how he worked his way toward owning a business and paid off his debt.
“I’m convinced that the economic issue of our generation is the federal deficit — we cannot leave that kind of legacy
to our children and our
grandchildren. I mean, what are we thinking here that we’re going to leave that to them?” Carter said, citing concerns about whether the American Dream will be possible for future generations.
How, then, does he balance the message that federal debt must be eradicated with the area’s reliance on Fort Stewart?
“The No. 1 responsibility of government is the safety of our citizens, no question about it, and I get that. We just have to make sure that we keep our military strong, and I understand how important that is. I also understand how important the economic impact is to areas like Hinesville,” he said.
When asked whether he would vote for Base Realignment and Closure, which the Department of Defense has called for in 2015, Carter said it would depend on what the package entails.
“I don’t want to put myself in a position where I’m boxed in; I’d really have to look at it and see what all it involves — you know, considering we’ve got four military bases, as long as BRAC didn’t include any of them, I’d be OK,” Carter said.
Carter, who represents much of Liberty County in his role as state senator, already has supporters in former Hinesville Mayor Allen Brown and real estate broker George Holtzman, who is a director for Southeast Georgia Friends of Fort Stewart & Hunter.
“I can’t think of anybody else — I don’t know who else will even want to throw their hat in the race,” Holtzman said. “He’s just a genuine servant to the people. He’s already proven that in Liberty County … We would not have the Armstrong campus being announced and started were it not for the efforts of Buddy Carter in this legislative session.”
“I’m excited. He’s my friend, and we were mayors together — that’s a pretty neat fraternity,” Brown said.
The men also served on a water committee while serving on a former iteration of the Coastal Regional Commission.
“Water was a big issue in Coastal Georgia, and I was on that committee — but I didn’t do the digging and the research, and I wasn’t as passionate about it as he was, and I realized that he was really in this deal. He made his commitment, and he was going to be a good member of that board, just like he was a good mayor and a good state senator.”
Liberty County Republican Party Chairman John Wood said he anticipates a fiery race for the seat, and he’s heard several potential candidates toss the idea around, including Darwin Carter of Bacon County who in 2010 ran for Georgia agricultural commissioner.
“This is a red district, and we want to keep it red,” Wood said. “This is going to be a hell of a fight, because the (Democratic National Convention Committee) has already circled it … this is their only shot at another red district.”
Carter said he already has begun raising money, but he declined to say how much his campaign has on hand.
Holtzman, however, said it’s important to support candidates like Carter and Kingston.
“I think we do need to have involvement and support behind the candidates, and obviously there’ll be fundraisers held, and we hope people will come out and make their contributions to support the candidates, because they obviously can’t win it on their own,” he said.