Lisa Renshaw really knows how to hurt a guy.
Renshaw, a Republican from Severn, began her run for Congress yesterday, assailing U.S. Representative Tom McMillen, D-4th, as a "Dukakis Democrat." Renshaw didn't spare the L-word, either, in her assault on McMillen.
"Tom McMillen may have been a center on the basketball court, butin Congress, he has been playing far left of center for too long," Renshaw said. "Tom McMillen, the basketball player turned congressman,is so liberal he's out of bounds."
Basketball metaphors are common with McMillen, a former Washington Bullets center, but Renshaw broke new ground yesterday.
The Severn resident criticized McMillen for voting for a pay raise for House members "while the federal government drowns in red ink."
"Come on, Tom, that's not just out of bounds, that's a personal foul," Renshaw said. "I say it's time we benched Tom McMillen."
Asked to respond to Renshaw's criticism, McMillen's chief of staff Jerry Grant said, "Who is she? I've never heard of her in my life."
Renshaw, 29, is well-known in Baltimore business circles, but relatively unknown in Anne Arundel. She briefly entered the District 32 General Assembly race last year but withdrew, saying her business wasn't ready to survive without her.
Her business success is what she's running on. In 1983, atthe age of 21, she took over a failing parking garage near Penn Station in Baltimore. Eight years later, she owns three garages and three parking lots, and expects to take in $1.3 million this year.
Her business has been featured in various newspaper and magazine articles.
"I know what it takes to build the economy and create jobs," she said. "I've done it."
Renshaw said she favors a constitutional amendment to control spending and wants to roll back the congressional pay raise that boosted members' salaries to $125,000.
Renshaw announced her candidacy alongside family members. Family values will be a cornerstone of her campaign.
After taking over for her partner, who left town with $3,000 of her money, she slept many nights in the parking garage.
"As I lay there, I was reminded of the kinds of values my parents instilled in me as I was growing up," she said. "They taught me that anything was possible if you're willing to back up your dreams with hard work."
Renshaw said she is opposed to legalized abortion, except in cases of rape, incest or if the mother's life is endangered.
McMillen opposes Medicaid funding of abortions, except in cases of rape, incest or if the mother's life is endangered, but otherwise believes government should stay out of the issue, Grant said.
Renshaw opposes a civil rights bill because she said it would lead to "racial quotas." McMillen favors the legislation, which Grant said "is not a racial quotas bill."
Renshaw's comments were focused on McMillen, but she first must get past at least one other Republican, Robert P. Duckworth, in the March primary. Duckworth, who ran against McMillen last year, announced his candidacy last week.
"I think primaries are very healthy and I'm encouraged," said Laura Green Treffer, head of the countyRepublican State Central Committee. "Both are viable candidates. Thefact that we're attracting candidates is a sign that people think wecan win."
Treffer had heard of Renshaw when she briefly entered the District 32 race, but didn't meet her until two months ago. Treffer said name recognition is Renshaw's biggest obstacle, but said she appears to have the fund-raising ability to overcome it.
Campaign consultant Michael J. Gannon said Renshaw has raised $25,000 of the $250,000 he thinks she will need to win the primary. Duckworth was outspent $560,000 to $41,000 in his loss to McMillen last year.
A Renshaw-McMillen matchup faces one other hurdle: the two may not end up in the same congressional district. The General Assembly will meet next month to approve a congressional redistricting plan. Under a plan proposed by a gubernatorial advisory committee, the two would be in the same district, but other proposals would divide Anne Arundel Countyamong more than one district.
"We're focusing on the reapportionment right now," Grant said. "We don't even know what district he's running in."