Maryland “threw out a mean-spirited, ineffective, Republican governor after just one term.” If all goes well, New Jersey could have that in common, Maryland’s top Democrat said Wednesday.

Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) offered the assessment Wednesday night as he delivered the keynote speech at a dinner hosted by the New Jersey Democratic State Committee.

O’Malley’s address in a hotel ballroom in New Brunswick heavily targeted New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R), a darling of conservatives nationally, and included a few shots as well at the Republican whom O’Malley defeated for a second time last year, former Maryland governor Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.

O’Malley’s win by nearly 15 percentage points, coupled with his ascension to chairman of the Democratic Governors Association, has made him a draw on the party’s dinner circuit around the country.

At Wednesday night’s Jefferson-Jackson dinner, he devoted the bulk of his speech to contrasting the way Democrats and Republicans govern.

Democrats, O’Malley asserted, “choose to invest in our kids’ future. That’s why we choose to invest in education, research, development, healing, cures and new technologies. That’s why we believe in rebuilding our nation’s crumbling infrastructure.”

By contrast, he said, there is “a new breed of tea-partying Republican governors who are not focused on job creation.”

“They are engaged in an historic overreach,” O’Malley said. “They care more about settling old scores than they do about creating new jobs. Rather than advancing innovation, they push narrow ideology. Instead of expanding opportunity, they seek to make teachers, fire fighters and nurses pay the price for a recession that America’s workers did not create.”

O’Malley and Christie, both of whom have been mentioned as possible 2016 presidential candidates, have engaged in some verbal sparring through the media in recent months, with Christie accusing O’Malley of “spewing pabulum” and criticizing him to get his name in The New York Times.

Speaking to the New Jersey party faithful, O'Malley accused Christie of having “tap-danced across the national media stage” to the delight of “enthusiastic FDR-haters.”

In making his case that Maryland and New Jersey have many things in common, O’Malley also offered this observation: “You’re the home of the New Jersey Devils. We’re the vacation home of former Vice President Dick Cheney.”