Gov. Chris Christie spent 261 days outside of New Jersey in 2015 as he campaigned for president according to a Wall Street Journal report. He is expected to be in New Jersey on Jan. 12, 2016 because that’s the day he is scheduled to deliver the annual State of the State Address.

Gov. Chris Christie delivers his budget address to the Legislature at the Statehouse in Trenton, N.J. on Tuesday, Feb. 24, 2015. (Governor's Office/Tim Larsen)

Christie said he planned to spend as much time as possible campaigning in New Hampshire before and after the address in the lead-up to the Granite State’s primary on Feb. 9, 2016. Political experts said the governor's extended absences could cast a shadow over his State of the State message.

“When you have a State of the State address you talk about what you want to accomplish for the year in broad terms,” said Ben Dworkin, a professor of political science at Rider University. “The governor, because he’s likely to give this speech and then within two days be back in Iowa or New Hampshire, he’s not going to be around to continue to promote these things after the speech.”

Another potential problem for Christie is that is he proposes policy and agenda items in the address, it will be the first many New Jersey residents and state legislators will hear of them because he has been out of the state so often, Dworkin explained.

“It’s not like he’s been out there trumpeting certain accomplishments,” he said. “The governor simply hasn’t been doing town halls in New Jersey talking about them over the past 12 months."

Democratic lawmakers in New Jersey are likely to seize on Christie’s frequent out-of-state trips when they respond to his State of the State message right after he delivers it predicted another veteran political observer.

“I think they have a point in that the political conversation has largely ground to a halt in New Jersey between the executive branch and legislative leadership so everybody knows there’s a lot of work that needs to be done, but everybody also knows that there’s not much that is getting done,” said Fairleigh Dickinson University political science professor Peter Woolley.

Any criticisms Democrats might level at Christie would be expected because that’s what happens when you have a governor who is out-of-state on an extended basis, Woolley noted.

“I think if there’s any doubt that is shared by voters on both sides it’s: What is actually going to get done if you (Christie) are campaigning in New Hampshire and South Carolina and Iowa,” Woolley asked.

The governor’s press office responded to a request that asked how involved was Christie in preparing the address and if was he writing it himself. The response, in its entirety, reads:

The governor is on the job around the clock and he remains as engaged in New Jersey’s governance and policy matters and decision-making as he ever has, and there is a strong list of accomplishments for him to point to, starting with the best private job growth New Jersey has witnessed in 15 years. But we aren’t going to preview his State of the State remarks for those who would snipe from the sidelines. The Governor is still in the process of drafting his message, and he will deliver it on January 12.

If Christie remains in the presidential race there will be a scheduling conflict in February. The governor is tentatively scheduled to deliver his State Budget Address on Feb. 23, 2016 which is the same day as the Nevada caucuses.

Kevin McArdle has covered the State House for New Jersey 101.5 news since 2002. Contact him at kevin.mcardle@townsquaremedia.com. Follow him on Twitter at @kevinmcardle1.

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