| Wikimedia; Chris Christie official photo; Newswire staff

Chris Christie qualifies for Virginia ballot

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie became the sixth Republican presidential candidate to qualify for Virginia's March 1 GOP primary ballot Monday, joining a growing field of contenders who have filed in advance of the state's Dec. 10 deadline.

In a statement, Christie acknowledged Virginia's importance to the Republican nominee's prospects next November. Christie also emphasized his national security message.

"These are serious times," Christie said, "and I will continue to work hard on the campaign trail to talk to voters about the tough issues facing our country, like ensuring our national security."

Over the Thanksgiving weekend, the Union Leader, New Hampshire's largest daily newspaper, endorsed Christie, calling him "the one candidate who has the range and type of experience the nation desperately needs."

The RealClearPolitics polling average for New Hampshire's Feb. 9 primary has Christie in seventh place, more than 20 points behind front-runner Donald Trump.

In Virginia, Christie trails front-runner Dr. Ben Carson by 25 points in the most recent University of Mary Washington Poll, taken in the first week of November, before the terrorist attacks in Paris.

Christie was bumped from the prime-time GOP debate in Milwaukee on Nov. 10 because he could not meet the 2.5-percent threshold in four national polls established by the debate's sponsor, Fox Business.