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Updated at 10:30am — Calloway on Emilio

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Former Santa Fe journalist remembers a legendary political boss at the top of his game.

If you missed longtime northern New Mexico journalist Larry Calloway’s reminiscence of the late Rio Arriba County political boss Emilio Naranjo in Sunday’s Albuquerque Journal, you can read “Emilio Naranjo Knew His Territory” right here.

Larry, who currently lives in the San Luis Valley of southern Colorado and is writing a memoir, is something of a legend himself, knows the territory as well, and, as a writer, is always at the top of his game.

Check out his Web site,

6:55am 11/17/08 — Funeral Mass Today for Naranjo: Sens. Ted Kennedy and Jeff Bingaman, Gov. Bill Richardson among honorary pallbearers.

The Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at 11:30 this morning at Sacred Heart of Jesus Catholic Church in Española for longtime Rio Arriba County political giant Emilio Naranjo, who died Thursday in Albuquerque at the age of 92.

Naranjo, who was Rio Arriba’s county sheriff, county manager, a federal marshal and a state senator, was honored Saturday afternoon where his lying-in-state at the State Capitol Rotunda turned into an impromptu memorial service, with more than 100 people paid tribute to the longtime political powerhouse, the Albuquerque Journal reported this weekend.

Among the dignitaries present Saturday were newly elected Sen. Tom Udall, D-N.M.; state Senate President Pro Tem Tim Jennings, D-Roswell; Santa Fe District Attorney Henry Valdez; Santa Fe County Commissioner Mike Anaya; and Santa Fe City Councilor Ron Trujillo, the Journal reported.

Among the honorary pallbearers listed for this morning’s funeral Mass are New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson and U.S. Sens. Ted Kennedy and Jeff Bingaman, according to an obituary that appeared in this weekend’s Journal.

Naranjo was born April 21, 1916, in Guachupangue, N.M., and was a lifelong resident of Española.

He is survived by his sons Emilio Naranjo Jr. of Rockville, Md., Benny Naranjo of Albuquerque, Barney Naranjo of Alamosa, Colo., David Naranjo of Velarde, Joseph Naranjo of Española, Larry Naranjo of Rio Rancho, Raul Naranjo of Albuquerque and Rubel T. Naranjo of Santa Fe; and daughters Lorraine Lopez of Albuquerque, Susie Salazar of Velarde, Jeanette Salazar of La Mesilla, Beverly Parmer of Fort Collins, Colo., Anna Naranjo of Chevy Chase, Md., Marguerite Naranjo of Española and Cecilia Naranjo of Albuquerque, according to the obituary.

He is also survived by 38 grandchildren, 41 great-grandchildren and one great-great-grandchild, the obit said.



4:30pm — Emilio Naranjo Dies at 92: Longtime political powerhouse died in his sleep this morning at his son’s house in Albuquerque. Read the full obituary in the Friday Journal.

By Raam Wong Journal Northern Bureau

Rio Arriba County’s longtime political boss Emilio Naranjo died Thursday morning. He was 92.

Naranjo is credited with single-handedly building the county Democratic party and then reigning over for more than four decades.

He died at his son’s home in Albuquerque.

Naranjo served as the chairman of the county Democrats for more than 30 years, as well as sheriff and state senator before being ousted in 1996.

To his supporters, the patron worked the levers of power with a velvet glove, checking in on his constituents and even handing out money and jobs in exchange for votes for his hand-picked slate of county and state candidates. To his opponents, he ruled with an iron fist and was accused of planting marijuana on a political rival.

“He was a legend in his own time,” cousin Robert Naranjo said.

Naranjo kept up with politics to the end, stumping with longtime friend Sen. Ted Kennedy in Española for John Kerry in 2004 and erecting hand-painted signs in support of Barack Obama in recent weeks.

1:05 pm — Longtime Rio Arriba County political boss Emilio Naranjo died this morning in his sleep at the home of his youngest son, Raul, in Albuquerque, the Rio Grande Sun reported in its online edition (thanks, Daniel, for the e-mailed link). He was 92.

6:15am 10/20/08 — Emilio Naranjo Hospitalized: New Mexico’s ‘last patrón’ — now 92 — is in Santa Fe’s Christus St. Vincent Regional Medical Center.

Former state Sen. Emilio Naranjo, 92, the longtime powerhouse of Rio Arriba County and New Mexico politics, was in a hospital room Monday at Christus St. Vincent Regional Medical Center, The New Mexican reported.

Floyd Trujillo, a Santa Fe Democratic ward chairman, told The New Mexican he visited his longtime friend in the hospital Monday morning, but couldn’t say why Naranjo was there.

“I don’t think he recognized me,” Trujillo said of Naranjo, adding that medication could be to blame for that, the paper reported.

Naranjo, called by many New Mexico’s “last patrón,” has been off the political radar screen for some time, but he did make news last year when he displayed a large sign for then-Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton in front of his home south of Española, The New Mexican said.

Elected Rio Arriba County Democratic chairman in 1952, at the age of 36, Naranjo has been credited with turning a formerly overwhelmingly Republican county to one that is overwhelmingly Democratic, according to The New Mexican.

He has been elected twice as Rio Arriba County sheriff (in 1958 and in 1970) and was elected to the New Mexico Senate in 1978 — the same year he was named Rio Arriba County manager, the paper reported.

Naranjo was forced out of the Senate in 1978 when he was convicted for perjury in a case from his years as sheriff, but the conviction was tossed out on appeal in 1980 and he resumed his Senate seat, The New Mexican said.

He lost the Senate seat in 1996, when he lost by just 16 votes to Arthur Rodarte in the Democratic primary, the paper reported.