Considered by friends and foes alike as one of the most effective legislators of the past several decades, Ted Kennedy became known as the “lion of the Senate” following his crucial roles in the passage of such landmark legislation as the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Kennedy was also a longtime champion of health care reform, which the senator referred to as “the cause of his life.”
As the younger brother of former President John F. Kennedy and 1968 presidential candidate and former Senator Robert Kennedy — both of whom were assassinated in the 1960s — Ted Kennedy was expected by many to follow a similar path towards the White House. However, those aspirations were cut short following a controversial car accident in 1969 where Kennedy’s car was driven off a bridge at Chappaquiddick near Cape Cod. Kennedy survived the crash, but his female companion, Mary Jo Kopechne did not.
An attempt several years later to challenge incumbent President Jimmy Carter for the Democratic nomination in 1980 would prove unsuccessful. Kennedy did however serve eight full terms in the Senate, making him one of only six senators to remain there more than 40 years (only Sen. Robert Byrd has served longer).
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