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Unwilling to let his opponent run away with headlines over the next 24 hours, former Stamford Mayor Dan Malloy held a Sunday news conference to announce that he is the first candidate for governor to qualify for public funds under the Citizens’ Election Program.

His opponent, Ned Lamont, is expected to announce Monday that Simsbury First Selectwoman Mary Glassman, who had been exploring a run for governor, will join him on the ticket. The decision puts an interesting spin on the campaign, since Glassman was Malloy’s running mate in 2006. Four years ago, Malloy lost the primary, but Glassman won and went on to join New Haven Mayor John DeStefano on the Democratic ticket. Republican Gov. M. Jodi Rell then went on to win the general election in a landslide.

It’s unclear after several phone calls to the Lamont campaign whether Glassman, who also has been running under the public finance system, will continue to do so since lieutenant governor candidates stand independently at the convention and in the primary. If she qualifies, Glassman will have the option to use $375,000 in public financing for the primary.

Lamont’s campaign released a statement Sunday congratulating Malloy on his accomplishment.

“I’m a strong supporter of removing special interest money from the electoral process, which is why my campaign is not accepting donations from state contractors or lobbyists,” Lamont said. “And as governor, I’ll work with the legislature to continue strengthening the Citizens’ Election Program.”

When answering a question about how he views Lamont’s choice of Glassman, Malloy said, “I think it’s a demonstration of my great leadership.”

But it’s also a “curious situation,” Malloy said.

“Mary has spent the last five months going around the state saying politics shouldn’t be about millionaires and that she supported the campaign finance system, so either she’s had a change of heart, or Ned’s had a change of heart.”

In the year of the populist, Malloy believes his decision to raise $250,000 in small donations from more than 4,000 individuals will resonate louder than Lamont’s decision to opt out of the system and possibly spend some of his own money. When Lamont challenged U.S. Sen. Joseph Lieberman back in 2006, he spent about $16 million of his own money.

“The amount of money being spent this year “is going to be rejected by the people,” Malloy said Sunday.

“I think all of these folks that go back on their commitment do go at their own peril,” Malloy said. “Because understand it flies in the face of what the system was set up to accomplish. It’s a representative government, not a government where only wealthy people can run for office.”

Under the rules of the Citizens’ Election Program, a candidate who qualifies by raising $250,000 in donations under $100 is granted $1.25 million for the primary. But if another candidate puts more than that amount of his own money into the race, there is a dollar-for-dollar match for the qualifying candidate of up to $2.5 million.  In the general election the qualifying candidate is granted $3 million, and if that person’s opponent spends more than that amount of his own money, the qualifying candidate gets a dollar for dollar match up to $6 million if they are the winner in the primary contest.