The gubernatorial candidacy of Baltimore State Sen. Harry J. McGuirk got a strong nod of approval tonight from a valuable ally, Baltimore Mayor William Donald Schaefer, as 1,700 people turned out for a McGuirk fund-raiser.

Schaefer stopped short of an endorsement during his brief unprepared speech to the crowd, which included many from McGuirk's South Baltimore base.

"You know what I ask an elected official to do--to listen to my problems and respond to them. Harry McGuirk has told me he will do that," Schaefer said. Then, turning to McGuirk and his running mate, Lt. Gov. Samuel Bogley, he said, "I want to wish you luck. I want to wish Sam luck, and if you ask me what that means I'm not going to tell you now."

While Schaefer cannot guarantee who the voters of his vote-rich city will go for in the September Democratic primary and November general election, his endorsement has been courted by the two major declared opponents of Gov. Harry Hughes--McGuirk, Hughes' primary opponent, and Republican challenger Robert A. Pascal. Schaefer, whose relationship with Hughes has been frosty, has also indicated a "friendship" with, though not an endorsement of, Pascal.

Schaefer was one of many Maryland politicians who appeared at the $100-a-person McGuirk-Bogley function, although most said they were there out of friendship for McGuirk and not because they were endorsing him.

"I'm here to pay homage," said Prince George's County Sen. Thomas V. (Mike) Miller, who has been a public supporter of Hughes and is likely to endorse the governor.

Among those who showed up were Attorney General Stephen H. Sachs, Maryland Senate President James Clark Jr., State Democratic Party Chair Rosalie Abrams, U.S. Rep. Barbara Mikulski and Baltimore City Council President Walter S. Orlinsky.

"I love it, I love it," said Orlinksy, a Hughes supporter, as he watched McGuirk warmly greet Schaefer. "The plot's really thickening now."

Much of the Prince George's delegation to the state legislature was present, in many cases because McGuirk's running mate, Bogley, is from the county.

Bogley, who was dropped from the Hughes ticket after an unhappy four-year relationship with the governor, was in a euphoric mood.

"After tonight, I'm a believer," said Bogley, whose theme of the evening was: "I'm asking you to put me back to work with Harry McGuirk." One politician who did come out and endorse McGuirk was Montgomery Sen. Sidney Kramer, who served on McGuirk's economic affairs committee in the state Senate.

In his speech, McGuirk said that as governor he would deliver honest government, the boast of the Hughes campaign, with effective leadership. McGuirk, who claims that voters are dissatisfied with Hughes because he has not been a forceful enough governor since elected in 1978, placed heavy emphasis on the leadership he could provide.

"I've been trained for 30 years [in political office] to assume this leadership," McGuirk said. "I am ready."

The Baltimore senator also made the prison issue, education and economic development key points of his speech, adding that he will provide leadership that will be "hard-nosed but not hard-hearted."