DETROIT, Mich. (WOOD) — Thousands of Michigan Democrats gathered in Detroit Sunday to choose candidates for this year’s election.

The endorsement convention at the Cobo Center served as both a rally and the kickoff for a big election cycle where Democrats see opportunity for their party.

“We decided to hold an endorsement convention a little earlier so that we can sort of put our stamp of approval on candidates who will ultimately be nominated,” Michigan Democratic Party Chair Brandon Dillon said. “It’s an opportunity for them to get out early. And what we found in the last few years waiting until the end of August is just too late. “

While not binding, the candidates of agreed to abide by the decision made at the convention.

The most contentious issue attendees had to decide was who to endorse in the race for the state attorney general’s office. The choice was between Dana Nessel, a former prosecutor from the Detroit area who was described as more progressive, and former U.S. Attorney for the Western District Patrick Miles, considered more moderate.

After passionate speeches and loud demonstrations, Nessel won the vote. Miles pledged to give her his full support.

“I guess the Democratic Party was ready for maybe a more unconventional candidate,” she said.

Democrats also chose Jocelyn Benson to run for Michigan secretary of state. Benson, an election law expert, previously lost the race for the office in 2010.

Democrats left Detroit with their November slate more or less intact. The question that remains who will win the gubernatorial nomination in the August primary and what, if any, impact the convention may have on that election.

—The Associated Press contributed to this report.