Renee McGuirk-Spence seeks to walk in her dad's 'Soft Shoes'

The newest candidate for the House of Delegates in a district that includes parts of Baltimore and Howard counties has some big -- and soft -- shoes to fill.

Renee McGuirk-Spence announced Tuesday that she has filed to run as a Democrat for one of three open House seats in the 12th District. A longtime aide to former Maryland school Superintendent Nancy S. Grasmick, McGuirk-Spence is the daughter of the late state Sen. Harry J. McGuirk, a colorful character known in Maryland politics as "Soft Shoes" for the deftness of his legislative maneuvering.


McGuirk died in 1992 while serving as an aide to Gov. William Donald Schaefer, whom McGuirk-Spence pointed to Tuesday as one of her political mentors. The white-maned McGuirk, one of the last of the old-style Baltimore machine politicians, served 22 years in the House and Senate before an ill-advised attempt to knock off reformist Gov. Harry R. Hughes in the 1982 Democratic primary.

His daughter, a 60-year-old Catonsville resident, is a longtime official of the Maryland State Department of Education who spent many years as Grasmick's governmental relations director.


The 12th District's strongly Democratic lean increased in reapportionment as more of  Howard County was shifted to the district. The district had  been represented by two moderate to conservative Democrats from southwest Baltimore County and one strong liberal from a separate subdistrict centered on Columbia. Incumbents Elizabeth Bobo of Howard and James E. Malone Jr. and Steve DeBoy of Baltimore County all have announced they will retire after the current terms expire, leading to a wide-open scramble for their open seats. Sen. Edward J. Kasemeyer, a Democrat, is the only member of the delegation expected to seek re-election.

McGuirk-Spence said she will emphasize education and job growth as she seeks to get into the old family business.

"I also am keenly aware that nearly half of all jobs in the U.S. are created by small businesses," she said in a statement. "We must do all that we can to make it easier for small businesses to survive and thrive in Maryland."

A spokeswoman for McGuirk-Spence, Jacqui Lampell, said her candidate is aware that the new map favors Howard County residents.

"She has been in the area a long time," Lampell said. "She knows a lot of people in Howard County too."

Five other Democrats have filed for House seats in the 12th District so far -- Brian S. Bailey, Rebecca P. Dongarra, Eric Ebersole, Terri Hill and Clarence K. Lam.