ST. PAUL (AP) - The Minnesota elections chief who steered the state through contentious back-to-back recounts, including Sen. Al Franken's slim victory over Republican Norm Coleman, says he won't run for a third term next year.

Democratic Secretary of State Mark Ritchie said Tuesday that he'll step down when his current term is done at the end of 2014. The 61-year-old says it was a difficult decision but that he concluded it's time for a new generation of leadership.

The open seat is sure to mean a competitive contest as Republicans try to break up Democratic dominance of statewide elected positions. Gov. Mark Dayton and Franken are both on the 2014 ballot after winning their respective offices in races that went to recounts.