Soon after striking out on his own as a retail pharmacist, Earl L. “Buddy” Carter found himself back in the driver’s seat.
This time he wasn’t delivering prescriptions, which had been his introduction to pharmacy work years prior.
Instead, Carter was making the rounds with a new clientele in Southern Georgia: the nearly two dozen nursing homes, hospice facilities and personal care communities where he served as a consultant pharmacist.
Decades later, Rep. Carter’s (R-GA) constituency is even more widespread: his congressional district covers a large swath of southeastern Georgia.
The second-term Republican has found similarities between serving the public and the customers who once relied on his pharmacy services.
“You need to surround yourself with good people in retail,” Carter said. “It’s the same here. And interacting with constituents is a lot like working with your customers. You’ve got to listen to your constituents.”
Carter, 60, sold his businesses after he won his Congressional seat. His wife, Amy, owns the remaining location in Pooler, GA. That’s the town where Carter grew up and first got involved with local politics, as mayor and eventually state legislator before running for federal office.
In those days, remembers longtime friend Bob Warnock, Mayor Carter might have dealt with squabbling chickens and noise violations.
Today, he’s battling for healthcare and national tax reform with the same plain-spoken, “reasonable” management style, says Warnock, senior vice president of pharmacy services for PruittHealth. Warnock initially hired Carter to serve coastal clients and expanded from there.
Carter, still a licensed pharmacist, serves on the House Subcommittee on Health and the GOP Doctors Caucus and co-chairs the House Community Pharmacy Caucus, which shapes prescription drug and opioid policy. He can be an outspoken health policy commenter.
When the Senate failed to pass repeal legislation in July, Carter drew widespread attention for telling MSNBC “somebody needs to go over there to that Senate and snatch a knot in their ass.”
He later explained the term meant to “get your act together,” a Southern colloquialism his mother often used.
Warnock said his friend is plain-spoken, confident in his ability to make tough choices and sometimes frustrated with the pace of doing business in politics.
“He listens to people, and then he goes out and tries to do the right thing,” Warnock says. “Sometimes, that puts him in a tough spot with the media or his party.”
When Carter’s not working on policy, the father of three and grandfather of three is likely playing golf with one of his sons or watching University of Georgia Bulldogs sporting events.
Carter once dreamed of playing football professionally, but when he went unrecruited as a defensive back out of Groves High School near his home in Port Wentworth, his father convinced him to focus on a career.
That’s when he began delivering prescriptions to homebound patients. He says those kinds of connections give pharmacists special insights — one reason he has voted for provider status that could expand pharmacists’ role in patient care.
“We know the community well, and we know their needs,” he said.
Married high school sweetheart Amy
Earned bachelor’s degree in pharmacy from University of Georgia
Opened first of three Carter’s Pharmacy locations
Served as mayor of Pooler, GA
Worked as consultant pharmacist for Omnicare
Elected to Georgia House of Representatives
Elected to Georgia Senate
Elected to Congress
Transferred remaining Carter’s pharmacy ownership to his wife