The late Fabian Chavez Jr. once said, “The Kennedy family loved Emilio Naranjo because he could get 5,000 people to their political rallies.” Chavez had a ringside view of politics both locally and nationally. He served in several political positions in New Mexico and was the Assistant Secretary of Commerce and Director of Tourism under the Carter administration in 1977.
Emilio Naranjo chaired the Rio Arriba County Democratic Party for 36 years. He held that office from 1952 to 1994, taking six years off in the 1960s when he was a U.S. Marshall. During his tenure, Naranjo built a political machine that, to date, has gone unrivaled in political clout, helping many local and national politicians. In addition to hosting Ted Kennedy in New Mexico, Naranjo also welcomed his brother John F. Kennedy to Santa Fe in 1960.