Gov. Chris Christie will return to the main stage for the final GOP presidential debate of 2015, CNN announced Sunday.

Republican presidential candidate Chris Christie onstage during the Republican presidential debates at the Reagan Library in Simi Valley on Sept. 16, 2015. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

On the heels of a new poll showing a lower-than-ever favorability rating in his home state, the New Jersey governor will again have a chance to join GOP front-runners for the next debate, which is set for Tuesday at 8:30 p.m. in Las Vegas.

Nine candidates will appear in the prime-time debate, which will be critical to GOP hopefuls heading into the Iowa caucuses. Christie will be positioned between former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul. Also on the main stage will be  businessman and GOP frontrunner Donald Trump, neurosurgeon Ben Carson, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, businesswoman Carly Fiorina and Ohio Gov. John Kasich.

According to CNN, in order to qualify for Tuesday's primetime debate, "candidates had to meet one of three criteria in polls conducted between Oct. 29 and Dec. 13 and recognized by CNN: an average of at least 3.5 percent nationally; at least 4 percent in Iowa; or at least 4 percent in New Hampshire."

Tuesday marks a return to the main stage for Christie, who failed to qualify for last month's Fox Business primetime debate. Despite his increasing popularity in the key state of New Hampshire in recent weeks, Christie is not exactly winning over voters in New Jersey. The latest Rutgers-Eagleton Poll shows that the governor’s approval rating has slipped to it’s lowest level to date.

The poll, released late Thursday, shows that Christie’s overall job approval now stands at just 33 percent among New Jersey voters. that’s a drop of six points since October. To add to the bad news, the governor’s disapproval rating has jumped six points to 62 percent. Christie’s approval rating is now lower than in the year immediately following the Bridgegate scandal.

Tuesday's GOP debate on CNN will be moderated by Wolf Blitzer. In addition, CNN's Chief Political Correspondent Dana Bash and Salem Radio Network talk show host Hugh Hewitt will be questioners.

The early debate, scheduled for 6 p.m., will feature Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham and former New York Gov. George Pataki.

Toniann Antonelli is the digital managing editor at NJ 101.5. Reach her at, or on Twitter @ToniRadio1015.

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