New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) is coming to heavily Democratic Maryland this month to raise money to help Larry Hogan, the state’s Republican gubernatorial nominee, in the first sign of national GOP interest in the race.

Christie, the chairman of the Republican Governors Association and a possible 2016 presidential candidate, is scheduled to appear with Hogan at a Sept. 17 event in Bethesda, Hogan’s campaign announced Tuesday.

Outside help could be critical for Hogan if he hopes to be competitive financially with Lt. Gov. Anthony G. Brown, the Democratic nominee. That’s because Hogan has opted to participate in the state’s public financing system, which limits direct spending by his campaign to about $2.6 million before the November election.

Hogan is free, however, to help the Maryland Republican Party raise money to promote his bid, and outside groups, including the RGA, are able to make expenditures promoting Hogan’s bid. The RGA, which seeks to elect Republican governors nationwide, had not previously indicated that the Maryland race would be a priority.

Money raised on Sept. 17 will flow into a “Hogan Victory Fund” established by the state Republican party, Hogan and party officials said.

Brown, meanwhile, has proven a prolific fundraiser, and the Maryland Democratic Party is in a far stronger financial position than the state GOP. Brown has also received fundraising help this year from Vice President Biden and former president Bill Clinton.

“Governor Christie and the RGA recognize that we are in a position to win this year, and that our effort has dramatically changed the dynamic of this race,” Hogan said in a statement Tuesday. “People everywhere are realizing that we have a real opportunity to win this race and bring real change to Maryland.”

Brown campaign manager Justin Schall said Tuesday that “nothing in this race has changed” as a result of the Christie announcement.

“In fact, Christie’s support reminds voters of the failed Republican agenda Hogan is so desperate to hide,” Schall said.