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

"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. "I am a survivor and our nation is resilient."

Among other things, Wetterling is calling for the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq by Thanksgiving 2006.

Wetterling became an activist after her 11-year-old son, Jacob, was abducted in 1989; he never was found. Last year, she made an unsuccessful bid for Congress.

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

Wetterling lost to Kennedy by 30,000 votes in the 6th Congressional District race last year.

Wetterling's son was snatched near his home when he was riding bikes with two other boys. The other boys said the abductor had a gun and was wearing a mask. Wetterling formed the Jacob Wetterling Foundation, and helped shape Minnesota's 1992 Sex Offender Registration Law. She also lobbied on children's issues on the national level.