A fifth Republican could enter Georgia governor race

A tech executive and former Navy SEAL is considering joining the race for Georgia governor, according to several people with knowledge of his discussions, a move that would shake up an already crowded contest.

Clay Tippins, 44, is said to be giving the race to succeed a term-limited Gov. Nathan Deal serious consideration but hasn’t finalized his decision. He is expected to decide within weeks.

A graduate of Shiloh High School, Tippins is a nephew of state Sen. Lindsey Tippins and was captain of Stanford University’s swim team.

He joined the elite Navy SEALs shortly after graduating and later moved to Silicon Valley to work for several startups. In the mid-2000s, he re-enlisted in the Navy Reserves and was recently dispatched to Iraq for a counter-terrorism tour of duty.

He’s now an executive vice president of Capgemini, the global consulting firm, and lives with his wife and two kids in Atlanta.

Should he run, Tippins would face significant hurdles. He would have to build non-existent name recognition up quickly in a field that includes Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, Secretary of State Brian Kemp and state Sens. Hunter Hill and Michael Williams.

He also faces hefty fundraising challenges: The other four GOP candidates have each raised or loaned themselves more than $1 million – Cagle raised nearly $3 million - and it’s not immediately clear whether Tippins would be able to rely on his own bank account to finance his race.

But there are also decided advantages to coming to the race as a blank slate – namely, he has no voting record, little history of public statements to scour. He could fill a lane as an outsider in a Republican race replete with candidates trying to position themselves the same way despite elected experience.

His military service would also help in a state where about 8 percent of voters served in the armed forces. The only other military veteran in the contest is Hill, a former U.S. Army officer who, like Tippins, is also a metro Atlanta executive and was a star athlete in high school.

Two Democrats are also in the race, vying to flip Georgia for the first time since Roy Barnes’ 2002 defeat: State Reps. Stacey Abrams and Stacey Evans.

More AJC coverage of the governor's race:

A new ‘religious liberty’ debate in Georgia takes aim at Cagle

Health policy splits Georgia gov candidates after repeal’s fail

Governor’s race revives a familiar feud between Kemp, Abrams

How Trump is shaking up the governor’s race

Georgia governor race: Who is running in 2018

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About the Author

Greg Bluestein
Greg Bluestein
Greg Bluestein is a political reporter who covers the governor's office and state politics for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.