New Englanders grab for patronage plums ripened by Reagan's win

Dozens of New England Republicans are rushing with their resumes in pursuit of appointive federal jobs under the fledgling Reagan administration -- posts that pay as much as $51,000 a year.

Only a small percentage of applicants, however, may be successful because the number of positions open is a lot smaller today than during past changes in White House occupants.

Many federal agency slots, formerly open to patronage, were placed out of political reach by the 1978 Civil Service Reform Act sponsored by President Carter.

Republican leaders from Maine to Connecticut are busily assembling lists of applicants and other potential appointees for consideration by President-elect Ronald Reagan and his transition team.

Some 35 top-level positions are involved, including those of US attorney in each of the six states, the federal coordinator of the New England Regional Commission, the regional administrator of the General Services Administration, and the Regional director of the Federal Trade Commission.These position now are held by Democrats.

While some who hold such posts may stay on until spring, most are expected to the replaced within the first few weeks of the Reagan administration. Some already have been quietly advised by those close to the President-elect to begin cleaning out their desks.

US Sen. Edward M. Kennedy and US House Speaker Thomas P. O'Neill Jr., both of whom have had considerable influence with the Carter administration on how jobs were filled in their home state and to a lesser extent in neighboring states, will be particularly hard hit by the move.

It is doubtful that any New England Republican with have anywhere near as much sway with Reagan as did either Messrs. Kennedy and O'Neill with Carter.

Although no appointments seem likely for several more weeks, the patronage seems likely to be spread more evenly around the region than currently, where Bay Staters hold most of the key agency jobs in the region.

Massachussets, unlike the other five neighboring states, has neither a Republican governor nor US senator. For this reason there is no single prominent Bay State GOP elected official to be consulted to help in the patronage flow.

Among New England Republicans expected to have a say in how some, if not all of the regional federal agency posts are filled are Sens. John Chafee of Rhode Island, William Cohen of Maine, Gordon Humphrey and Warren Rudman of New Hampshire, Robert Stafford of Vermont, and Connecticut GOP chairman Frederick Beeble.

In Massachusetts the highest ranking Republicans, Reps. Silvio O. Conte and Margaret Heckler, may be consulted. But neither seems likely to exert the influence of a GOP senator or governor. Besides these two, state Rep. Frank Conway, who was the Bay State cochairman of the Reagan-for-President campaign seems sure to have at least some sway in patronage matters. Also involved will be state GOP chairman Andrew S. Natsios, national committee-woman Polly Logan.

Some of the early job applications already have been screened, but no recommendations have have been made, Mrs. Logan explains.

While declining to speculate on coming Reagan administration appointments, most New England GOP leaders doubt that only political conservatives will get the plums.

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