"Fran Drescher, actress, women's health advocate and public diplomacy envoy for the U.S. State Department, announced that she is throwing her hat into the ring of contenders for the senate seat being vacated by Secretary of State-designate Hillary Rodham Clinton," Drescher spokesman Jordan Brown told CNN in a written statement late Monday.
Drescher, 51, is best known for her starring role in the 1990s television comedy "The Nanny" and an adenoidal voice that could strip the rust off an engine block — a talent that might come in handy during a Senate filibuster.
But since a bout with uterine cancer, she has become an activist for better health care for women and was named a State Department public envoy on the issue in September. Drescher recently toured Eastern European countries to raise awareness of the issue on behalf of the State Department.
New York Gov. David Paterson will appoint a successor for Clinton, who still must be confirmed by her Senate colleagues for the Cabinet post. That successor would face voters in a special election in 2010.
A spokesman for Patterson did not immediately respond to a request for comment Tuesday morning.
Paterson said Monday that Kennedy had called him and "asked a few questions," but dismissed other reports as "gossip."
"And frankly, this is a serious issue which I think is starting to be treated as some sort of reality TV show," he added.
A senior adviser to Clinton, Philippe Reines, said she would not comment on her possible successors.
"This is entirely Governor Patterson's decision and we're respecting the privacy of his process," Reines said.