He was elected to the Senate from the state of Massachusetts in 1962 to fill the vacant seat left by his brother, John F. Kennedy, upon the latter's becoming President of the United States. Kennedy, a Democrat, has been re-elected to the seat ever since.
After a party on Chappaquiddick Island on July 18, 1969, Senator Edward Kennedy drove an Oldsmobile off a wooden bridge into a tide-swept pond and his passenger and aide, Mary Jo Kopechne, drowned. Kennedy did not report the incident for 10 hours.
Kennedy tried to secure the Democratic nomination for the 1980 Presidential election, but despite winning support early in his bid was ultimately unsuccessful. Many put this down to the incident at Chappaquiddick.
Kennedy is the senior Democrat on the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee in the Senate. He also serves on the Judiciary Committee, where he is the senior Democrat on the Immigration Subcommittee, and the Armed Services Committee, where he is the senior Democrat on the Seapower Subcommittee. He is also a member of the Congressional Joint Economic Committee, a founder of the Congressional Friends of Ireland, and a trustee of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, DC.
Kennedy is the youngest of nine children of Joseph P. Kennedy, Sr and Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy, and is a graduate of Harvard College and the University of Virginia Law School. His home is in Hyannis Port, Massachusetts, where he lives with his wife, Victoria Reggie Kennedy, and children, Curran and Caroline. He also has three grown children from his former marriage: Kara, Edward Jr, and Patrick, and four grandchildren.