By electoral history and available metrics, U.S. Rep. Buddy Carter, R-1, is in a fairly secure position as he is once again up for election next year. However, he’s drawn opposition in the Republican primary in the form of Daniel Merritt, an Army major who served tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan before building a successful lifestyle business in Savannah.
“I want to be a representation of every single person here. I want to make this entire district better than where I found it, and I have a track record of success in the military, in business, and I think that’s going to easily translate into a track record of success in politics,” Merritt said at a meeting Monday of the Golden Isles Republican Women. “I’m a pro-gun, pro-Trump, pro-wall conservative Republican, and I’m proudly running for Georgia’s 1st District.”
Merritt enlisted in the Army after high school, serving in Iraq and then, after becoming an officer, in Afghanistan.
“When I came back from Afghanistan, I wanted to do something different,” Merritt said.
His brother, who also became an Army officer, was starting a business in Savannah called GI Custom, and asked Merritt to join in the endeavor.
“I rolled the dice in starting a company and getting into business, something I had no business being in,” Merritt said. “Something I had no experience being in. Came out here, and I can tell you that the scariest thing that I’ve done in my adult life is get out of the service.”
He later added, “I’ve been shot at, I’ve been blown up, I’ve been hit by roadside bombs, I’ve lost buddies. But to get out was the scariest thing I’ve ever done.”
At the same time his brother was doing GI Custom, Merritt kicked off Nine Line Apparel. The businesses eventually merged.
“Nine Line Apparel, which started out with two Army captains who could barely dress themselves, into a nationally recognized clothing company with hundreds of employees that I employ directly, and probably hundreds more that we help indirectly,” Merritt said.
Two years ago, Merritt and his wife started A Southern Lifestyle Co.
“So, I say all that to kind of say this — I had no business jumping into small business,” Merritt said. “I had to figure it out. I figured it out really quickly, and every single thing I’ve ever set my mind to, I would accomplish one way or the other. I don’t do things the same way that everybody else does them, but in terms of living up to my expectations from other people, in terms of always putting everybody else first, that’s what I’ve been doing my entire adult life.”
As to why Republican voters should choose a different option in 2020, Merritt said one reason is to get a new approach.
“I can bring a fresh look at how we do things in Washington,” Merritt said. “I think part of the problem, and part of the gridlock, and part of the same ‘this is how we do things’ over and over and over again — I’m not saying there’s not progress, what I’m saying is that there’s gridlock. And the way that we’ve been doing things is not working.”
The last time Carter faced primary opposition was when he ran for the open seat in 2014 — he took 36.2 percent in leading the original primary field, and won the runoff against Bob Johnson with 53.8 percent of the vote.