New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie speaks at a conference in May. (Mark Lennihan/ASSOCIATED PRESS)

Elisabeth Smith, O’Malley’s spokeswoman at the Democratic Governors Association, which O’Malley has led since December, said the RGA’s election of Christie to its No. 2 position “shows that they care more about tough-guy rhetoric and YouTube hits than actual results.”

“Since becoming governor, Christie has made devastating cuts to schools, raised property taxes, killed thousands of jobs ... and even forced a downgrade of his state’s bond-rating,” Smith said. “His shtick may make for good copy, but it has had dire consequences for the people of New Jersey.”

The less-than-warm welcome stood in stark contrast to the DGA’s reaction last month when Virginia Gov. Robert F. McDonnell (R) ascended to chairman of the RGA.

By all accounts, O’Malley and McDonnell have worked well together on regional issues, and McDonnell is not among the GOP governors at whom O’Malley routinely takes aim in speeches around the country and in media appearances.

“This has never been about attacking the chair of the other committee,” Smith said last month when McDonnell’s new post became official.

In a speech this summer in Utah, O’Malley referred to Christie, as he often does, as a “colorful character” who lives in a “make-believe world, where down is up, up is down, candy is a vegetable, and vegetables are candy.” Christie has said O’Malley criticizes him to get his name in the newspaper.

In a statement Wednesday, McDonnell praised both Christie and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R), who joined the RGA’s executive committee.

“No governors better exemplify the type of leadership our country needs right now than Governors Chris Christie and Scott Walker,” McDonnell said. “Both have closed multibillion-dollar budget deficits, tackled unsustainable long-term liabilities in their states and are aggressively pursuing education reform. They are sending a powerful message to the nation that the toughest political issues can be solved, and they will be valuable members of the RGA’s leadership.”