A Republican luminary added his wattage to California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's star power at two campaign events yesterday.

One day after announcing that he is considering another run for the presidency, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) jetted to California to show support for a set of state ballot initiatives the GOP governor is championing.

Voters will decide Nov. 8 whether to change the way California legislative districts are drawn, limit teacher tenure, restrict union political activity and hand the governor more power over the state budget.

McCain used his reputation as a bipartisan negotiator to portray the redistricting measure as an effort to create a more moderate state legislature -- not the divisive power-grab Democrats describe. "We need more competitive races," he said. "We need more moderation."

Schwarzenegger once emphasized his credentials as a centrist. But over the past year, he has alienated Democrats by picking fights with nurses' unions, teachers and public employee unions. Both sides have spent millions of dollars on fierce ad campaigns. Schwarzenegger's approval rating has slipped to below 35 percent.

Republican strategist Allen Hoffenblum said the move was an effort to motivate independent voters and wavering Democrats to vote. "Not too many people believe the governor can win this with just Republican votes alone," he said.

In another effort to reach voters outside his Republican base, Schwarzenegger will meet union representatives on Oct. 24 for a debate in the San Francisco Bay Area, home to his toughest critics.

And yesterday, with McCain in tow, Schwarzenegger made a point of visiting a nearby gathering of nurses. "I just think the world of what nurses do," Schwarzenegger told them. The nurses applauded and cheered.

Minnesota Activist to Run for Senate

Patty Wetterling, whose highly publicized search for her missing son helped lead to strengthening of child protection laws, is running for the Senate in Minnesota.

"My campaign is about reminding all of us that faith, possibility and hope are always there, even if sometimes we have to look a little harder to find them," Wetterling, 55, told about 100 supporters at her campaign kickoff Sunday, according to the Associated Press. "I am a survivor, and our nation is resilient."

Wetterling is calling for the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq by Thanksgiving 2006, the AP said.

Wetterling became an activist after her son, Jacob, 11, was abducted in 1989; he never was found. She formed the Jacob Wetterling Foundation, helped shape Minnesota's 1992 sex offender registration law and has lobbied for children's issues at the national level. Last year, she made an unsuccessful bid for Congress.

She enters a crowded field in pursuing the 2006 Democratic nomination to replace Sen. Mark Dayton, who is not seeking a second term. Among those running or considering a run, according to AP, are Hennepin County Attorney Amy Klobuchar and lawyer Michael Ciresi, who ran against Dayton in the 2000 Democratic primary. On the Republican side, Rep. Mark Kennedy appears to have a lock on the GOP nomination.

Sen. John McCain joins Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to endorse California ballot measures.