Iron Range state Sen. Tom Bakk dropped his bid for Minnesota governor on Saturday, acknowledging that his chances of winning the DFL nomination were slim.

Bakk, of Cook, made the announcement Saturday morning at the St. Louis County DFL Convention in Duluth.

Gov. Tim Pawlenty, a Republican, isn't running for another term, and about two dozen Democrats, Republicans and third-party candidates are vying to replace him. On the DFL side, Bakk was bunched with several other candidates behind front-runners House Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher and Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak.

In an interview Saturday, Bakk, 55, said that when he was plotting his gubernatorial strategy, he had thought the DFL race would narrow down to two to three candidates, and "I would be one of them."

Instead, he faced a host of candidates and a huge number of uncommitted delegates. Breaking through to those delegates would have taken time he just didn't have to spare, given his legislative work, he said.

"For me, it's actually a pretty clear decision at this point," he said.

Bakk said he won't endorse anyone until after the state party convention and that being another candidate's second-in-command is "not something I'm interested in."

Bakk, chairman of the powerful Senate Taxes Committee, has served 16 years in the House and Senate.

He said he hopes his campaign theme of "jobs, jobs, jobs" will stay at the forefront of the gubernatorial race.

"As a carpenter who ran out of unemployment in the 1980s, I understand the stress today's unemployed Minnesotans face," he said. "Many people are losing their homes, health care or their businesses. This is unacceptable."

The Associated Press contributed to this report. Rachel E. Stassen-Berger • 651-292-0164