Buford was twice a candidate for Missouri Lieutenant Governor but failed to win election to this statewide office.
Carter Martin Buford was born March 3, 1876 in Barnesville, Missouri, today known as Ellington, where he attended public school. After graduation Buford attended Cape Girardeau Normal School, known today as Missouri State University.
Following his time in college, Buford entered the field of education, teaching in the schools for a time before winning election as Commissioner of Schools for Reynolds County in 1897.
Buford later studied law, gaining admittance to the Missouri Bar in 1905. He subsequently entered into legal practice in his home town of Ellington.
He would move away from the school system two years later, assuming the position of Reynolds County Recorder—a position which he would retain until his election to the Missouri State Senate in 1906.
Buford ran as a Democrat for the Missouri Senate in November 1906, winning election to his first term of office. Buford was elected from the 24th Missouri Senate District, an electoral area which encompassed parts of Reynolds, Phelps, Washington, Dent, Iron, and Crawford counties.
He won re-election to a second 4-year term in November 1910 by a substantial majority—one of 13 Democratic Senators elected out of 18 contested seats. These joined 11 Democratic holdovers not up for election, constituting a substantial majority of the 34 seat body. Buford began to rise in the ranks during this second term of office, emerging as floor leader for the Democratic caucus.
Among Buford's early legislative achievements was the introduction of a school district consolidation bill which enabled the establishment of a network of free rural high schools in 1913. Prior to the passage of this bill, rural Missouri children faced being transported sometimes significant distances to public schools located in urban centers or the paying of tuition at various rural "academies" located around the state.
Buford won a third term of office in the 24th Senate District in November 1914. Shortly after the election Buford was one of three Senators named to the state's Auditing Committee by Democratic Governor Elliott W. Major—a committee which he chaired. The committee was responsible for checking and verifying the physical bonds and securities held by the government of Missouri in bank vaults around the state.
When the new legislature assembled in Jefferson City, Buford had gathered sufficient votes to win election by the Democratic caucus as President Pro Tem of the Senate—the top leadership position of the majority party. He would retain this position for the duration of the 48th legislative session but would not be returned as President Pro Tem for the 49th session in 1917.
A fourth term of office was won in November 1918. In the session of the assembly which followed, Buford served as chair of the Elections Committee and was a member of the powerful Appropriations Committee. During his career Buford would twice run for Lieutenant Governor of Missouri but would fail in these efforts to win election to statewide office.
Buford left the Missouri Senate in 1922 at the conclusion of his 1918 term, returning to full-time legal practice. He was again returned to Springfield by the Democratic Party in September 1926, however, following the death in office of his successor, Senator Frank Farris. Buford was chosen as a compromise candidate when the Democratic Committee in the district became hopelessly deadlocked between two candidates and were unable to come to a decision after 167 ballots.
He ran again in the 24th Senate District when the seat again was contested in November 1926, winning his fifth term in Springfield. A sixth and final 4-year term was won in November 1930.
Buford continued to be a leading influence in Missouri state politics until his retirement in 1934.
Carter M. Buford died in the evening of June 30, 1959 at his home in Ellington. He was 83 years old at the time of his death.