Gov. Walker gives pep talk to Md. GOP

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TAMPA, Fla. -- Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who is something of a celebrity at the Republican National Convention this week, had a message today for the Maryland delegation: Take heart.

Walker, who became a hero of the conservative movement after surviving a high-profile recall attempt in June, noted that Republicans in Wisconsin had once been heavily outgunned by Democrats, too. This year, the state is home to the party's vice presidential nominee, Paul Ryan, and is considered a tossup.

"Prior to the Nov. 2, 2010 election, the last time we carried the state was 1984," said Walker, the most prominent Republican who has come to address to the state's delegates and alternates gathered here. "In our case, before the Nov. 2, 2010 election, Democrats controlled everything."

Sound familiar? The message clearly resonated with Republicans from Maryland, where voters have not backed a GOP president since George Bush in 1988.

Until this year, Wisconsin -- like Maryland -- was represented by two Democrats in the U.S. Senate and had sent a majority of Democrats to the House of Representatives. The previous governor, Democrat Jim Doyle, had served from 2003 to 2011 and his party controlled both chambers of the state legislature.

Now, in addition to electing -- and then reelecting -- Walker, voters also have a Republican in the Senate, Ron Johnson.

Still, Wisconsin isn't a perfect parallel to Maryland. While the Badger State has voted for Democrat presidents for years, the margins have been much slimmer than in Maryland. Walker conceded hat Republicans in his state were "blown out" by Barack Obama in 2008. Obama won Wisconsin with 56 percent of the vote.

In Maryland, he captured 62 percent.