Jimmy Smits Signs on to 'West Wing'

He's played a Los Angeles lawyer and a New York detective. Now, Jimmy Smits (search) is going to Washington — or more specifically, the cast of the "The West Wing" (search) — as a congressman.

Smits' character, a three-term congressman from Houston, might fill the Oval Office that will eventually be left empty by fictional second-term President Josiah Bartlet, played by Martin Sheen. (search

The network used that same phrase to describe Alan Alda's character, a Republican senator from California, when it was announced that the "M.A.S.H." veteran would appear on the White House drama.

New cast members without presidential aspirations are Marley Shelton ("Uptown Girls") and Mary McCormack (USA's "Traffic"), who turn their guest roles from last season into a full-time jobs during the show's upcoming sixth season.

Smits has gotten into politics before. He played an Alderaan senator in "Star Wars: Episode II — Attack of the Clones" (search) and will reprise the role in Episode III's "Revenge of the Sith" in 2005.

"The West Wing" — with its cabinet of new cast members — premieres Oct. 20.