CHICAGO (AP) — Cook County's Democratic Party on Friday endorsed state Sen. Kwame Raoul for attorney general over former Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn and several other candidates who urged party leaders not to pick a favorite.

The Democratic nomination for the statewide office is available after Attorney General Lisa Madigan said in September that she wouldn't seek re-election. On Friday, candidates for the nomination spoke to Cook County Democrats in hopes of earning their support.

Quinn made his pitch citing poll numbers he said showed him in the lead among other Democratic candidates and said he has experience running several statewide campaigns. Quinn won the 2010 governor's race but lost re-election to Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner in 2014.

Quinn and other candidates had asked party officials not to endorse and to instead support an open primary or wait until filing ends. Cook County Democratic Party chairman Joseph Berrios said Raoul was the committee's unanimous choice.

"I am confident that Kwame will be a true advocate for our families in Illinois," Berrios said.

Raoul said he was pleased to get the party's backing but says it will still be a competitive primary. Raoul is from Chicago's South Side. He is serving his 13th year in the Illinois General Assembly.

"I've developed a legislative record which uniquely qualifies me to take on the role of attorney general," he said in a statement released after the party announcement their endorsement.

He and Quinn are among eight candidates vying for the party's nomination. The others include state Rep. Scott Drury of Highwood, former Chicago civilian police authority administrator Sharon Fairley, 33rd Ward Democratic committeeman Aaron Goldstein, former federal prosecutor Renato Mariotti, Highland Park Mayor Nancy Rotering and Chicago Park District Board President Jesse Ruiz.

One Republican, attorney Erika Harold, is seeking the GOP nomination. The primary is March 20, 2018.

Cook County is home to the largest number of people who have historically voted in Democratic primaries.