Dayton mayor ends Ohio governor bid, backs Cordray

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Democrat Richard Cordray continued to consolidate support for his run for Ohio governor with another former rival abandoning her bid for the office and endorsing his ticket.

Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley announced her decision to leave the race at a joint appearance Friday with Cordray, the former federal consumer protection chief.

Earlier this week, former U.S. Rep. Betty Sutton left the race to become Cordray’s running mate for lieutenant governor.

The decision by Cordray’s gubernatorial campaign to go with Sutton as his running mate follows a similar move by two key Republicans. Attorney General Mike DeWine and Secretary of State Jon Husted consolidated their campaigns on Nov. 30, to unite campaign and grassroots resources and to minimize negative attacks that could hurt their party in the general election.

Whaley’s departure leaves one woman among the remaining Democratic gubernatorial contenders. Former state lawmaker Connie Pillich, retiring Ohio Supreme Court Justice William O’Neill and state Sen. Joe Schiavoni are still in the race. Former U.S. Rep. Dennis Kucinich is expected to launch a campaign next week.

O’Neill announced his running mate, educator Chantelle E. Lewis, of East Cleveland, on Tuesday, adding age and race diversity that O’Neill said will distinguish him with Democratic voters. O’Neill, who’s 70 years old, is white, as are the other gubernatorial candidates; Lewis, who’s 42, is black.

Republican Lt. Governor Mary Taylor is also running for governor, with Cincinnati businessman Nathan Estruth.