MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - Former presidential candidate and Sen. Bernie Sanders is backing Rep. Keith Ellison's bid for Minnesota Attorney General.

Sanders headlined a rally for Ellison Friday morning at First Avenue in Minneapolis. The pair was scheduled to hold a rally in Duluth later Friday.

Crowds lined up before the doors opened, and quickly filled the inside of First Ave.

The one-time presidential candidate's visit is the latest reminder of the high stakes surrounding the Democratic primary in the normally sleepy race for attorney general. And it could galvanize Democrats.

Democratic Attorney General Lori Swanson triggered a mad dash to replace her last month by launching a last-minute bid for governor. Ellison, state Rep. Debra Hilstrom, local attorney Matt Pelikan and others are running.

Democratic voters will choose a candidate in an Aug. 12 primary. The winner will face Republican Doug Wardlow in November.