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Carter to seek Senate seat

State Rep. Buddy Carter announced Tuesday that he will pursue Eric Johnson’s District 1 seat in the Georgia Senate in 2010.

Johnson announced in October his intent to run for lieutenant governor.

The 1st District includes portions of Chatham and Liberty Counties and all of Bryan County.

"I am announcing my candidacy for the Georgia Senate with great enthusiasm," Carter said. "We simply must find reasonable solutions to this state’s most pressing problems which includes job creation and trauma care. The Coastal Empire has made great strides in becoming one of the fastest growing areas, and I look forward to helping take our issues to the Georgia Senate."

Before joining the Georgia General Assembly in 2005, Carter served five terms as the Mayor of the City of Pooler. He has also served as chairman of the Savannah-Chatham Metropolitan Planning Commission and chairman of the Coastal Georgia Regional Development Center.

"I know many Bryan County officials from being in the CGRDC," Carter said. "Also, there are a lot of similarities between Bryan County and Pooler. Both are growing areas and face many of the same challenges. I’ve dealt with issues like infrastructure and water and sewer as it pertains to growth. If you look at my record in Pooler, which continues on into legislature, I think it speaks for itself."

Bryan County Commission Chairman Jimmy Burnsed said he will be sad to see Johnson vacate his seat but is confident Carter can do well.

"I think he (Carter) does a great job in the House," Burnsed said. "He’s been very supportive and helpful about issues regarding Bryan County, such as the IJR project (Interstate Justification Report on the Belfast-Keller interchange). He has always indicated an interest in helping us. From that standpoint, he’s been a friend to Bryan County."

Burnsed said it will be a "tremendous loss" to lose Johnson's, as Senate Pro-Tem, influence in the capitol, but understands his desire for a higher position in the state.

"He’ll (Johnson) certainly do a great job as lieutenant governor," Burnsed said. "I just hope he will remember us, and I think he would. I think his appointment would serve the whole Southeast Georgia area well."

Johnson said he has done all he can in the senate and believes he now can make a more effective impact in the coming years as lieutenant governor.

"I have reached the pinnacle of my senatorial career, and it’s time to step aside," Johnson said. "My plan is to continue to move Georgia forward and bring its people together. I think this is the best way to accomplish that."

Johnson has not publicly endorsed Carter, but said he is confident in his abilities.

"Buddy represents the kind of person I’d like to see in the state senate," Johnson said. "His record of public service as mayor and for the state goes to show that. He has an understanding of both state and city issues, which is certainly a plus."

The position of lieutenant governor will be up for grabs in 2010 as current Georgia Lieutenant Governor Casey Cagle has announced plans to run for governor. Current Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue is constitutionally ineligible to seek a third consecutive term as Governor in 2010.

Last year, Richmond Hill realtor Steve Croy publicly pondered the idea of running for Johnson’s senate seat but said he recently decided against it.

"I decided instead to put all my efforts into my business and on being the financial chairman and treasurer for Casey Cagle in his pursuit of governor."

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