Since his election to the Senate in 1962 to take up the seat vacated by his brother Jack, who was then president, Senator Edward Kennedy has been crossing the aisle and cutting deals with political friends and foes alike.It is a commonly held view on Capitol Hill that Kennedy is the most influential senator of the past 50 years. Some of the most progressive legislation to come out of the United States such as the minimum wage, immigration, disability rights and healthcare bear his hallmark. He was primed for the 1972 presidential election but failed to stand because of Chappaquiddick. In July 1969 off Cape Cod after a night of carousing the 37-year-old Kennedy drove his car off a bridge. His companion Mary Jo Kopechne drowned. Critics maintain Kennedy panicked and left her in the sinking car. He pleaded guilty to leaving the scene of the accident and was handed a two year suspended sentence. He took on Jimmy Carter for the Democratic nomination in 1980 but failed and from then on dedicated himself to serving the American People the Senate and the Kennedy family.