By Brian Kramer | Casa Grande Dispatch
In late 1955, the patriarchs of two powerful American families met on the ranch of Augustus J. “Gus” Battaglia near Eloy.
The topic of Joseph Kennedy Sr. and Joseph Bonanno’s conversation reportedly was a presidential campaign for Joe’s son, John F. Kennedy. The younger Kennedy, then 38, was serving Massachusetts in the U.S. Senate.
“It might seem odd, even a little preposterous, for a man with Joe Kennedy’s savvy and background to have persistently courted a known Mafia leader like Joseph Bonanno,” Bonanno’s son, Salvatore “Bill” Bonanno, later wrote in his book “Bound by Honor: A Mafioso’s Story.”
They discussed their plan to get Kennedy on the Democratic ticket in 1960, assuming incumbent President Dwight D. Eisenhower would likely be re-elected in 1956, according to Bonanno’s book. As with a number of things cited in the book, there is no way to corroborate the information. Three years later, in 1958,
John Kennedy attended one of Battaglia’s annual barbecues on his ranch. In January 1960, he formally announced a campaign that would make him the youngest man ever elected president of the United States and one that would forever change the way candidates campaigned because of the importance of television.