Boston — New England Republicans lost some big ones in last week's election, but the party still fared a lot better than it has in more than a decade. The loss of the Vermont governorship to Democrat Madeleine Kunin and unsuccessful efforts to pick up a US Senate and two US House seats in Massachusetts were considerably offset by big GOP gains elsewhere in the six-state region.
While most Republican incumbents held their own, the party wrested two US House seats, one each in Connecticut and New Hampshire, and the Rhode Island governorship from the Democrats.
In New Hampshire, where President Reagan's political towline may have been particularly strong, the GOP for the first time in nearly a quarter of a century will hold all major offices for the next two years. Republican Gov. John Sununu was elected to a second two-year term and the party won a nearly 3-to-1 advantage, the largest since 1901, in the legislature.
Connecticut Republicans, for the first time since 1972, captured both branches of the state's General Assembly. As a result, Democratic Gov William A. O'Neill faces an assembly firmly controlled by the opposition party.
More modest Republican legislative gains were achieved in Maine, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island.
Rhode Islanders elected a new Republican governor, Edward DiPrete, and attorney general, former Roman Catholic nun Arlene Violet.
Once rock-ribbed Republican Vermont not only elected a Democratic governor, only the third in its history, but ended GOP control of the state Senate and narrowed the party's House majority. Overall, Republicans lost 14 state lawmaking seats in Vermont.
With the addition of Republicans John Rowland in Connecticut's Fifth District and Robert Smith in New Hampshire's First District, 10 of the 24 New England seats in the US House will be GOP-occupied. The region's Senate delegation remains split 6 to 6 with the election of Democrat John F. Kerry in Massachusetts and the reelection of Republicans William S. Cohen in Maine and Claiborne Pell in Rhode Island.