COLUMBUS— A third Democrat has left Ohio’s governor’s race and endorsed former consumer watchdog Richard Cordray.

Ex-state Rep. Connie Pillich’s anticipated withdrawal Wednesday left no woman leading a Democratic ticket — but she, Cordray and Cordray’s female running mate said that doesn’t mean women will play a back seat role.

Cordray dismissed as "dumb" a rival’s suggestion that party insiders are forcing aside qualified candidates to help hand him the nomination. He said he’s gathering them into a coalition that can win against Republicans.

Pillich and former U.S. Rep. and running mate Betty Sutton pushed back on questions of the gender optics of their decisions.

Sutton said the 58-year-old Cordray has "earned his way" to topping the ticket through decades of public service at the local, state and federal levels.